Professionals held less positive attitudes towards caring for overweight or obese pregnant women, compared to normal weight pregnant women, a study has found.
Professionals held less positive attitudes towards caring for overweight or obese pregnant women, compared to normal weight pregnant women, a study has found. Contributed

Study reveals hospitals ill-treat obese pregnant women

PREGNANT Queensland women who are considered to be obese or overweight are treated more poorly by maternity care providers, new research has found.

The findings come less than a week after Maryborough mum Lauren Fender told the Chronicle she was treated rudely by staff at Hervey bay Hospital after they informed her she would have to deliver her baby in Brisbane or the Sunshine Coast because of her weight.

A study from the University of Queensland investigated weight stigma in maternity care settings and found that women who had a higher body mass index in pregnancy were more likely to report instances of negative treatment.

Dr Yvette Miller from the university's Queensland Centre for Mothers and Babies said the mothers reported not being treated with respect, understanding and kindness and feeling that the care providers did not genuinely care for their wellbeing.

She said it was not just that women with larger bodies were more sensitive to discriminatory treatment or perceived their treatment differently.

"Professionals with training in both the medical and midwifery fields across Australia responded differently to fictional case presentations of a pregnant patient, depending on whether they had a normal weight, overweight or obese BMI, although nothing else about the patient was different," she said.

"Professionals held less positive attitudes towards caring for overweight or obese pregnant women, compared to normal weight pregnant women.

"Attitudes such as being annoyed by the patient, feeling as though seeing the patient was a waste of their time, and having less patience or a personal desire to help and support them.

"They also perceived overweight and obese pregnant women as less likely to be healthy, to take care of themselves and to be self-disciplined, even though all other health indicators for the fictional patients were exactly the same."



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