‘Midwives welcome new CMO advice on physical activity for expectant mothers’

By RCM on 29 June 2017 Advice Pregnancy Obesity Midwives CMO - Chief Medical Officer Good Health Expectant Mothers

Today (Thursday June 29th) the UK’s Chief Medical Officers for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have released new advice on physical activity for expectant mothers.

The new recommendations aim to reduce issues such as obesity, diabetes and other health concerns during pregnancy. The latest evidence suggests pregnant women should carry out around 150 minutes of 'moderate intensity' activity every week.

The new advice is being issued in the form of an infographic* and has also been aimed at providing midwives, nurses, GPs, obstetricians, gynaecologists with the latest evidence on physical activity during pregnancy.

Commenting, Louise Silverton, Director for Midwifery at The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) says; “The RCM very much welcomes this new advice from all four Chief Medical Officers across the UK. The new advice in the form of an infographic is innovative and clear.

“The RCM has consistently advised that being obese when pregnant can cause complications for women and their babies and means we should do all we can to offer support and specialist maternity services for these women. 

“An increasing number of women are overweight or obese when they start having a family and midwives do know they have a critical role to play in promoting public health and supporting weight management. This is why the RCM’s Stepping up to Public Health webpages highlight evidence-based information and tools for women* and midwives** to help them manage weight in pregnancy and after birth.

However we also know that many midwives are tremendously pressed because of staff shortages, we remain 3,500 midwives short in England alone. Our members tell us that at times they struggle to spend as much time as they need to support and advise women about their weight management ad exercise during pregnancy.”

“It is important to keep physically active during pregnancy - moderate exercise will not harm the woman or her baby, recreational exercise such as swimming or brisk walking is known to be beneficial and this study appears to show a potential benefit of exercise in reducing the risk of gestational diabetes. We know that there is an increase of this condition in pregnancy amongst obese women.

“The exercise pregnant women take should reflect their previous exercise regime. So for example it would not be appropriate for a woman who has done no exercise for many years to suddenly start running long distances in pregnancy. If women exercised regularly before pregnancy, they should be able to continue with no adverse effects.

“If women have not exercised routinely they should begin with no more than 15 minutes of continuous exercise, three times per week, increasing gradually to daily 30-minute sessions and this will  help them to meet the CMO’s recommended exercise level of 150 minutes a week.

The RCM is pleased that the infographic issued by the CMO’s is comprehensive, as it also states clearly that all physical activity counts including; walking, washing windows, household chores and gardening must also be approached with caution, not only sporting activities.

If women have any concerns or questions the RCM advises them to speak with their midwife or GP.”

For more information on the new CNO advice for all four UK countries and the Start active, stay active: infographics on physical activity click here;


*Please see the Start active, stay active: infographics on physical activity attached to PR*

To contact the RCM Press Office call 020 7312 3456 or email [email protected].


Notes to editors

The RCM is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team. We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences and online resources. For more information visit the RCM website at https://www.rcm.org.uk/.