Universal Strategies: Healthy Weights in Pregnancy

Universal Strategies: Promoting Healthy Pregnancy Weight Gain to All Pregnant Women

Universal health promotion strategies are those that are aimed at all women. ENRICH has conducted three studies which are aimed at understanding the supports that women and health care providers need to help women achieve healthy pregnancies. ENRICH has partnered closely with colleagues at Alberta Health Services in three projects under this theme.

1) Survey of women and health care providers: Alberta Health Services conducted a province-wide survey. Women within one-year postpartum were asked questions about their pregnancy regarding the advice they received about weight gain, nutrition, and physical activity from their health care providers. In turn, health care providers were asked about their practices with pregnant women with respect to weight, nutrition, and physical activity. A report detailing our findings so far is available through Alberta Health Services. Two ENRICH team members recently presented related findings at the 4th Canadian Obesity Summit; their abstracts can be found here and here.

2) Focus groups with women: ENRICH and Alberta Health Services worked together to conduct focus groups in each Alberta Health Zone. We asked women about their experiences with gestational weight gain and nutrition and their interactions with care providers. We also asked women about what they think they need in order to have a healthy pregnancy. Results from this study will be reported in an upcoming manuscript.

3) Interviews with health care providers: we interviewed health care providers who work with pregnant women (e.g. obstetricians, gynaecologists, family physicians, nurses, and midwives) from each Alberta Health Zone. We asked them about their practices with pregnant women regarding weight gain and nutrition and about what they need to better support women to achieve healthy pregnancies. We collected similar data from a group of health care providers from British Columbia. Results from this study will be reported at the Canadian National Perinatal Research Meeting 2016 and in an upcoming manuscript.


In addition to these three projects, ENRICH will be identifying novel, innovative strategies to improve women and health care providers' experiences and practices in promoting healthy weights. Stay tuned to hear about what strategies we implement and evaluate in collaboration with Alberta Health Services. 



The Healthy Pregnancy Weight Gain (HPWG) Project (AHS) has developed tools and resources to promote healthy weight gain during pregnancy among women across Alberta. These resources were disseminated in Fall of 2012 and include:

  • A background / introductory document
  • The Healthy Eating and Active Living (HEAL) for Pregnancy booklet (developed by Alberta Health)
  • Singleton weight gain graphs based on pre-pregnancy BMI
  • A BMI calculator wheel
  • A handout on key actions and messages for healthcare providers

The resources above can be found at




Alberta Health Services has also developed resources for health care providers, such as an online learning module through the Alberta Perinatal Professionals Electronic Library (APPEL). The HPWG project team developed this module with support from the Alberta Perinatal Health Program. Physicians also have access to a nutrition counselling website to use when they want to refer a pregnant women to a dietitian,