Semin Reprod Med 2020; 38(06): 414-422
DOI: 10.1055/s-0041-1723775
Review Article

Weight Stigma across the Preconception, Pregnancy, and Postpartum Periods: A Narrative Review and Conceptual Model

1   Monash Centre for Health Research and Implementation, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia
2   Psychological and Cognitive Sciences, Department of Social Science and Policy Studies, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, Massachusetts
› Author Affiliations


Weight stigma is a pervasive issue promoting significant adverse health and psychosocial consequences. Preconception, pregnant, and postpartum women are particularly vulnerable to weight stigma, which can directly impact their health and that of the next generation. Of note, weight stigma affects women living with obesity who are already at risk for developing gestational diabetes and experiencing associated stigmas. This narrative review aimed to examine the literature on weight stigma across the preconception, pregnancy, and postpartum periods, specifically to (1) synthesize the evidence using a socioecological lens; (2) develop a conceptual model of weight stigma tailored to women across this life phase; and (3) provide recommendations for future research. To date, weight stigma research across the preconception, pregnancy, and postpartum periods has focused predominately on pregnancy and antenatal care. The drivers and facilitators of this stigma are pervasive, occurring across various contexts and settings. Manifestations of weight stigma include decreased reproductive healthcare quality, mental health symptoms, poorer health behaviors, and adverse pregnancy outcomes. Future research should further investigate the experiences of women preconception and postpartum, and health/social impacts beyond healthcare. The model herein will guide such research to ultimately identify opportunities for stigma reduction and improve multigenerational health and well-being outcomes.

Publication History

Article published online:
16 March 2021

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