During pregnancy, health professionals have the opportunity to convey public health messages regarding healthy pregnancy and its benefits for both mother and child. However, the impact of this health service encounter on health behaviours has been little studied. The aim of this study is to investigate the health behaviours of pregnant women in Northern Ireland, and the extent to which these change between the first and subsequent pregnancies. In the first part of the study, the student will take the opportunity of the existence of the NI Baby Hearts Database, a representative sample of 966 pregnant women in NI 2014-16 who were interviewed about a broad range of health behaviours.
These data can be analysed to investigate the extent of the difference between first time pregnant women, and women who have been pregnant before, in factors such as whether periconceptional folic acid was taken, smoking, diet, alcohol and physical activity. It will also be possible to look at the relationship between these factors and the age, social circumstances, and mental health of the mother. The second part of the study will follow up these findings to investigate women’s experience of and response to public health messaging during pregnancy.