A Qualitative Study of Motivators, Strategies, Barriers, and Learning Needs Related to Healthy Cooking during Pregnancy
Nutrition during pregnancy has lifelong impacts on the health of mother and child. However, this life stage presents unique challenges to healthy cooking and eating. Cooking interventions show promising results, but often lack theoretical basis and rigorous evaluation. The objective of this formative, qualitative study was to explore motivators, strategies, and barriers related to healthy cooking during pregnancy. Pregnant individuals’ preferences for a cooking education program were also explored. We conducted five focus groups with pregnant individuals (n = 20) in Southeast Michigan in 2019. Focus groups were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim, then double coded by two members of the research team. Mean gestational age was 18.3 ± 9.6 weeks. Common motivators included feeding other children, avoiding pregnancy complications, promoting fetal growth, and avoiding foodborne illness. Challenges included pregnancy symptoms, navigating nutrition recommendations, mental energy of meal planning, family preferences, and time constraints. Strategies employed were meal planning and including a variety of foods. Participants identified organizational strategies, recipes, nutrition information, and peer support as important components of a cooking intervention during pregnancy. This study characterized multiple challenges to healthy home cooking during pregnancy, providing novel insight to inform the development of cooking skills education programs during this important life stage.