Nutrition-related information-seeking behaviours before and throughout the course of pregnancy: consequences for nutrition communication

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2005 Aug:59 Suppl 1:S57-65. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602175.


Background: Research has shown that especially pregnant women, and also women with a wish for a child, have increased nutrition awareness. Seeking nutrition information seemed to be an important determinant for nutrition awareness. However, little research has been carried out about nutrition-related information-seeking behaviours before and during pregnancy.

Objective: This study aimed to explore nutrition-related information sources, nutrition information-seeking behaviours and motives for seeking nutrition information before and throughout the course of pregnancy.

Design: Data were collected by means of retrospective in-depth face-to-face interviews of 1 h with five groups of 12 women: women with a child wish, women in their first, second and third trimester of the first pregnancy and women in their first trimester of the second pregnancy. Women were mainly selected via midwifery practices. The interviews took place at conference rooms or at the respondent's home. Qualitative data were analysed with the software program NUD(*)IST (QSR, Melbourne). This was based on the research objectives and relevant text segments of transcripts.

Results: Women with a child wish generally sought little nutrition information because they were not pregnant yet. Information sources were the Internet (anonymous) and the social environment (models). In relation to the manifestation of nutrition-related information-seeking behaviours during first-time pregnancies, three groups of women could be distinguished: (1) women who feel like a mother from the moment they know that they are pregnant, (2) women who feel like a mother later in pregnancy and (3) women who do not feel like a mother yet. Each group had its own specific information-seeking behaviour. Important information sources of the first group were the Internet (anonymous and up to date), books (extended) and midwives (expert) during the first trimester; the 9-month calendar (fun and tips), friends (experienced) in the second trimester; and friends (information on breastfeeding) in the third trimester. Information sources of the second group of women were mainly brochures provided by the midwife and the midwife herself. The third group of women mainly relied on their own common sense. Second-time pregnant women mainly relied on their experience, the midwife and books for specific questions.

Conclusions: Pregnant women perceive pregnancy-specific nutrition information as important because it is one of the few things that they can apply in their daily lives to protect the health of the fetus. Nutrition-related information-seeking behaviours mainly were pregnancy specific in character, rather than directed to general nutrition information.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Communication*
  • Female
  • Health Education
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Maternal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena* / physiology
  • Midwifery
  • Nutritional Sciences / education*
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods*
  • Physician's Role
  • Pregnancy
  • Retrospective Studies