Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Master of Science


Foods and Nutrition


Twynstra, Jasna


Brescia University College

2nd Supervisor

Seabrook, Jamie


Brescia University College


3rd Supervisor

Madill, Janet


Brescia University College



Limited data exists on Canadian midwives’ experiences with nutrition for pregnancy. An anonymous e-survey was distributed via midwifery associations’ e-newsletters, social media, and clinics’ public e-mail addresses to explore Canadian midwives’ nutrition attitudes, education, and recommendations.

Almost all (99.4%) of the 161 respondents provided nutrition advice to pregnant women and almost two-thirds (63.7%) received nutrition training. Midwives had positive attitudes towards nutrition (median=5 on scale where 1=very unimportant and 5=very important) and their comfort levels in advising on nutrition topics ranged from moderate to high. An average of 85.3% of their recommendations aligned with Health Canada pregnancy guidelines and relevant literature. There was no difference in the number of recommendations that align with guidelines between midwives who received nutrition education (16.4/19) and those who did not (15.9/19; p=0.13).

Overall, Canadian midwives provide nutrition advice with comfort and knowledge that has no relationship to whether they received formal nutrition education.

Summary for Lay Audience

Maternal nutrition during pregnancy is vital for the health and development of both the mother and infant, and nutrition guidance must be provided to pregnant women. Midwives, family physicians, and obstetricians are the three primary maternity care providers in Canada and are credible sources of nutrition information. Of the three primary maternity care providers, midwives provide the most nutrition counselling to pregnant women, yet little is known about Canadian midwives’ nutrition training, attitudes, experiences, and recommendations. Using an anonymous, online survey distributed to midwives across Canada, this thesis provides evidence that most midwives had received formal nutrition training and that they had positive attitudes towards the importance of prenatal nutrition and towards the importance of their role in providing nutrition education to pregnant women. Midwives frequently encountered and were comfortable in advising on several nutrition topics in their practice, including heartburn, anemia, weight gain, nutrition for breastfeeding, and healthy eating. As well, most of the midwives’ pregnancy-related nutrition advice aligned with Health Canada guidelines and relevant literature, regardless of whether the midwives had received nutrition training or not. Overall, findings from this thesis show that Canadian midwives have positive attitudes towards nutrition and are a trusted source of nutrition information. In the future, this work may lay the foundation for further understanding Canadian midwives’ experiences with nutrition in practice and identifying the nutrition areas for which the midwives may require additional information and training.