Body Positive Birth Alliance launched to address weight stigma in maternity care

Rebecca Krispin Uncategorised

“Women deserve respect and dignity when growing and birthing their baby, regardless of body size.”
(Dr Briony Hill, Body Positive Birth Alliance Executive Team)

CRE HiPP is proud to announce the launch of a new alliance which aims to challenge weight-centric maternity care, and address both unconscious and conscious weight stigma and discrimination.

The Body Positive Birth Alliance brings together a collective of consumers, clinicians, researchers, advocates and professional groups, aiming to improve experiences of maternity care and health outcomes for larger bodied women and their children.

According to Dr Briony Hill, member of the Alliance’s Executive Team and Deputy Head of Monash University’s Health and Social Care Unit, “Reducing weight stigma and discrimination in maternity care is urgently required.

“This Alliance represents a small step in formalising our mission and plans to address this problem collectively – with the support of researchers, clinicians and women.”

The group will work to address national policies, research priorities and gaps between research and practice in this area.

Weight stigma is common in maternity care and is linked with poor pregnancy outcomes, including high blood pressure, mental illness, birth problems, lower breastfeeding rates, poorer long-term maternal and child health, and intergenerational stigma. It is also known to undermine weight management in pregnant women.

Said Alliance Executive Professor Leonie Callaway, “Weight stigma is profoundly harmful, and we must address this issue to improve the safety of maternity care. Together with consumers, our shared aim is to make maternity care free of weight stigma.”

The Alliance’s main goals for 2023 are to plan for and seek funding to get some key projects underway.

In fact, three members of the Alliance’s Executive Team have already secured funding for several studies in this important new field as follows:

  • Dr Bec Jenkinson was awarded a Health Translation Queensland Microgrant to support the early and ongoing involvement of women with lived experience of weight stigma in maternity care. These women now form the Body Positive Birth Lived Experience Expert Group, who are working alongside researchers in the Body Positive Birth Alliance on both current and in-development future projects. 
  • Associate Professor Lauren Kearney was awarded a 2023 CRE HiPP Practising Health Professional Capacity Building SEED Grant for a study describing weight bias among maternity healthcare providers, and their attitudes and beliefs towards caring for larger bodied women.

  • Dr Hill has gained funding to lead three projects:
    1. The CRE HiPP 2022 EMCR Small Grant Scheme is supporting a pilot study of the photovoice methodology, to explore larger bodied women’s experiences of maternity care. This project will work with larger bodied women and weight-inclusive clinicians to find acceptable and feasible ways to capture their perspectives on living well during pregnancy, birth and postnatal care, through stories and photographs.
    2. Seed funding through The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre will support a pilot study on leveraging consumer expertise to improve healthcare professional knowledge about weight stigma in antenatal care. The goals of this project include strengthening relationships with women accessing maternity care, and facilitating action on weight stigma in pregnancy. 
    3. Dr Hill’s 2022 Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Project and 2023 ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) will develop policy guidance for weight stigma across preconception, pregnancy and postpartum, through research focused on the community, women, and healthcare professionals. 

These projects reflect the Alliance’s focus on consumer involvement. “The support of our consumer partners is key. They provide the real world lens needed to ensure the outcomes of our research can make a difference for women in the real world,” said Dr Hill.

“We hope to bring the issue of weight stigma and discrimination in maternity care to the forefront of people’s minds and create some public and political impetus to improve maternity care for larger bodied women.”

CRE HiPP looks forward to following the work and achievements of this important new Alliance.

For more information or to get in touch, please visit

“When you’re pregnant and having a baby, it’s one of the most vulnerable times. Women with larger bodies are extra vulnerable, dealing with the stigma that goes along with that.”

(Renee, maternity care consumer)