Mothers and mums-to-be wanted to provide views on how pregnancy and motherhood affects physical activity

December 4, 2017

Researchers will use real-life stories to create accessible advice on physical activity during motherhood

There is strong evidence that regular physical activity can provide health benefits for pregnant mums and their babies, and beyond into motherhood. However, many women do not meet the recommended guidelines for physical activity during or after pregnancy.

Research suggests that the existing guidelines and advice on physical activity in pregnancy are not accessible enough for mothers and mums-to-be, and can even cause confusion.

A survey has now been launched by a GW4 research consortium to capture the views and experiences of mothers and mums-to-be of physical activity (or inactivity) throughout motherhood. What are the new challenges presented by motherhood, and how useful do women find the current guidelines for being active during pregnancy?

This evidence will be used to develop engaging resources that combine existing medical guidelines with the real-life stories of mothers and mums-to-be. The researchers behind the ‘Moving through Motherhood’ project have worked with a mothers group in Exeter to create the survey, and will continue to work with them and a graphic designer to develop the resources based on the experiences of mothers across the UK.

Co-lead researcher, Dr Victoria Salmon, University of Exeter, said: “Evidence-based guidelines are in place to provide advice on the optimum level of physical activity throughout motherhood. However, often this guidance is not targeted at the ‘end users’ themselves: mothers and mums-to-be. Many women also receive conflicting or confusing advice from friends, family members and even health workers on the safest ways to stay active throughout pregnancy and beyond.

We want to hear from mothers and mums-to-be on their views and experiences of physical activity during pregnancy: were they able to be active, what worked for them, what didn’t and how this relates to the existing guidelines. We will use this data to create relevant, engaging and accessible resources on physical activity that can be shared through social media, posted in children’s centres and discussed in doctors’ surgeries.”

The research team will be promoting the survey through online forums such as The Motherload to encourage mothers and mums-to-be to share their experiences.

The survey is open until 22 December 2017, although may close earlier if enough responses are received. Mothers and mums-to-be across the UK, with a particular focus on the South West, are encouraged to share their experiences.

The ‘Moving through Motherhood’ project has been supported by the GW4 Crucible seed corn funding scheme, and brings together researchers from the University of Bath, University of Exeter and Leicester University.

The survey is available at: https://bathreg.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/moving-through-motherhood