Transcending individual blame and weight stigma for preconception women living in larger bodies - perspectives of healthcare

Monash University

The preconception period has been identified as an opportunity to promote favourable maternal and infant outcomes, before, during and after pregnancy. Important facets of preconception care include ensuring women are up to date on vaccinations, cessation of alcohol and smoking, folic acid supplementation, and management of co-morbidities (e.g., asthma, diabetes).

Despite the well-established benefits of preconception care, the uptake from women remains low. One factor that may be contributing to this is the prevalence of weight stigma within the healthcare setting. Weight stigma refers to the negative stereotypes, attitudes, devaluation, and exclusion towards people based on their body shape, weight, and size.

Ensuring environments are accommodating to all women throughout the preconception time period is incredibly important to optimise the health of mothers and infants prior to conception. Therefore, we aim to understand explicit weight biases that are perpetuated against preconception women from the perspectives of GPs. We are conducting a quantitative cross-sectional study on GPs to investigate four stigma related factors (empathy, causal attribution of obesity, social norms around body size and attitudes toward caring for preconception women living in larger bodies) that are associated with explicit weight biases.

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