excessive gestational weight gain, obesity, pregnancy, qualitative research, self-monitoring



  1. Shieh, Carol DNSc, MPH, RNC-OB, FAAN
  2. Draucker, Claire Burke PhD, RN, FAAN


Background: Excessive maternal gestational weight gain increases pregnancy and infant complications. Self-monitoring has been shown to be an effective strategy in weight management. Literature, however, is limited in describing pregnant women's engagement in self-monitoring.


Aim: This qualitative study explored the experiences of overweight and obese pregnant women who self-monitored their eating, walking, and weight as participants in an intervention for excessive gestational weight gain prevention.


Methods: Thirteen overweight and obese pregnant women participated in semistructured interviews. Reflexive iteration data analysis was conducted.


Findings: Five themes were identified: making self-monitoring a habit, strategies for self-monitoring, barriers to self-monitoring, benefits of self-monitoring, and drawbacks of self-monitoring. The women viewed self-monitoring as a "habit" that could foster a sense of self-control and mindfulness. Visual or tracing aids were used to maintain the self-monitoring habit. Forgetting, defective tracking aids, complexities of food monitoring, and life events could impede self-monitoring. Being unable to keep up with self-monitoring or to achieve goals created stress.


Conclusions: Self-monitoring is a promising approach to weight management for overweight and obese pregnant women. However, healthcare providers should be aware that, although women may identify several benefits to self-monitoring, for some women, consistently trying to track their behaviors is stressful.