Making Compromises: A Qualitative Study of Sugar Consumption Behaviors During Pregnancy



To explore influences on women’s sugar consumption behaviors during pregnancy.


Focused ethnography guided this qualitative study. Contrasting experiences between women with varying sugar intakes were investigated using semi-structured interviews.


Metropolitan area, Canada.


Fifteen women with varying intakes of added sugar, who were in the third trimester of their first pregnancy, participated in this study.

Phenomenon of Interest

Sugar consumption behaviors during pregnancy.


Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using qualitative content analysis to inductively derive themes.


Pregnant women increased their intake of sugars in an effort to achieve a compromise between meeting nutrition recommendations, lifestyle adjustments, physical symptoms, and cultural norms. Physical symptoms, lack of nutritional guidance, and social pressures were identified as barriers to achieving a diet low in sugars, whereas implementing dietary strategies guided by nutritional knowledge was a facilitator.

Conclusions and Implications

This research provides insights that may be used to design effective interventions to improve maternal health. Strategies to help pregnant women achieve a healthy diet and limit sugar intake should be guided by nutritional knowledge, dietary awareness, and internal motivations to engage in healthy dietary changes.

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