Why pregnant women eat what they eat. Midwives’ assessment and optimisation of pregnant women’s contextual dietary intake

Pregnant women – like the general population – do not meet nutrition guidelines sufficiently; this is especially true for groups with lower socioeconomic status (SES). Healthy nutrition promotion by midwives is very promising for several reasons: nutrition during pregnancy affects maternal and children’s health, pregnancy is a special and critical transition in which women are open to dietary changes and midwives are their first and most important information source. However, nutrition communication by midwives is limited and focuses primarily on risks and problems. This represents an important omission and missed opportunity in the Dutch health care system.

The overall goal to which this project contributes is the improvement of the nutritional status of low SES pregnant women. Therefore, this research will eventually contribute to the (further) development of tools/methods that can be used by midwives and/or dietitians to assess dietary intake and address contextual dietary intake as part of their strategies to promote healthy nutrition among pregnant women and their families.

The societal relevance of this study relates to concurrent health challenges and developments, e.g. the need for healthy nutrition promotion among pregnant women and the new Dutch dietary guidelines are addressed. The study is scientifically relevant and unique as low SES pregnant women’s contextual dietary intake is studied in depth from an ecological perspective on health. Innovatively, midwives, dietitians and pregnant women are engaged in research activities which will result in context-sensitive usable knowledge, which will significantly increase implementation chances.