Ms Jenny Cunningham

Research project: Understanding weight stigma and its impact on women's experiences of maternity care


To better understand the experience of weight stigma as experienced by pregnant women with a raised body mass index (BMI) together with the attitudes and beliefs of staff towards people with a raised BMI. 

The research objectives:

  • To examine the liteature regarding the weight stigma experiences of pregnant and postnatal women with a raised BMI. this will be a synthesis of both qualitative and qualitative data ad will include the use of the social sciences databases.
  • To use a qualitative methodology to investigate pregnant women's experiences of weight stigma - using one-to-one interviews. A stakeholder group will be established.
  • To explore the choices women with a raised BMI make during pregnancy, particularly about the choice of place of birth. An on-line forum will be used.
  • To survey midwives to discover attitudes to weight and existence of weight bias.
  • To bring together the qualitative and quantitative elements.
  • Research degree: PhD
  • Title of project: Understanding weight stigma and its impact on women's experiences of maternity care
  • Research supervisor: Dr Kirstie Coxon
  • Other research supervisor: Dr Melania Calestani


I qualified as a midwife in 2007 and have worked both clinically and in research. I  now work for the Royal College of Midwives as its Research Advisor. 

Areas of research interest

  • Pregnancy
  • Raised body mass index
  • Antenatal care
  • Midwives
  • Maternity services


  • MSc Woman's Health, Plymouth University
  • Dip HE Midwifery, Plymouth University
  • BA (Hons) Education and Environmental Science, Froebel College, Roehampton

Funding or awards received

  • Royal Devon & Exeter Foundation Trust - small grant scheme 2015


 Cunningham, J, Goldsmith, L and Skirton, H (2014)  The evidence base regarding the experiences of and attitudes to preimplantation genetic diagnosis in prospective parents, in Midwifery 31, pp. 288-296 

Cunningham, J, Endacott, R, Gibbons, D  (2018) The experiences of pregnant women with a raised Body Mass Index (BMI) regarding their communication with midwives and other healthcare professionals, in British Journal of Midwifery 26, 9