A micro boost for body positivity maternity care

24 August 2023

Through the support of a Health Translation Queensland (HTQ) Community and Consumer Involvement microgrant, researchers and maternity consumers have highlighted the experience of larger-bodied women, advocating for a new approach to maternity care.

Research Fellow Dr Bec Jenkinson explained the group co-authored a discussion paper, Listening to larger bodied women: Time for a new approach to maternity care, published by the top-ranked midwifery journal Women and Birth.

“The co-authors are members of our Lived Experience Expert Group and have been part of the Body Positivity Birth project since the beginning, thanks to HTQ’s microgrant,” Dr Jenkinson said.

“Our research project’s early academic output is consumer-led, in alignment with our entire program of work, putting consumers front and centre in an important scholarly and clinical conversation about maternity care."

The Body Positivity Birth project aims to deliver consumer-led educational resources and guidelines for doctors, midwives and allied health professionals to provide higher quality care for pregnant women with larger bodies.

The research project design was informed by a consumer focus group, funded through a HTQ Consumer and Community Involvement (CCI) microgrant in mid-2022.

“Throughout this project, our experiences and ideas have truly been valued. The academic team have taken on board our suggestions and together we are focused on changing practice and changing the health system,” said Ms Ahlia Griffiths, Chair of the Lived Experience Expert Group.

"Being paid for our time makes it possible for consumers to be involved over a long period of time. We feel valued, which is so important when we are sharing experience of healthcare where we haven’t felt valued or respected”

In 2023, the Body Positivity Birth project research team secured a Women’s Health Research Translation Network co-production grant, with the consumers named as investigators on that grant.

Health and Wellbeing Queensland has also joined the research project as a partner.

Dr Jenkinson said the project has funding for its first 2 years.

“We are grateful to HTQ and its microgrant program because a large part of our initial success was due to involving consumers early,” Dr Jenkinson said.

“Although the microgrant wasn’t a huge amount of money, it allowed us to organise a consumer focus group of 9 women from around Australia to discuss their lived experiences of perinatal care.

“From then on, we could include these consumer voices in our research grant applications and presentations.

“Now, the momentum is building, and we are applying for national funding to co-design and pilot a model of care that optimises wellbeing and health outcomes for pregnant women with larger bodies.

“The combination of consumer and researcher voices is letting us get more traction on the important issue of weight stigma in maternity care. I’m excited to be part of a project that is working towards tangible and real life outcomes that can provide long-term and meaningful change,” said Ms Griffiths.

Keen to apply for a HTQ CCI microgrant? Find out more on HTQ’s website.

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