Let’s get our mums active!

By Frances Drury, Head of Activation, Sport England on 02 February 2022 Midwives MSWs - Maternity Support Workers Wellbeing Of Women

In December, Sport England launched its first campaign directed at healthcare professionals. Supported by organisations including the Royall College of Midwives (RCM), Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) the This Girl Can campaign encourages healthcare professionals (specifically midwives, GPs and health visitors) to Get Our Mums Active. The aim is to encourage healthcare professionals to routinely provide advice and encouragement to pregnant women and new mothers around physical activity.

This campaign has been prompted by new research which has shown that 64 per cent of pregnant women and women with children under 1 had or have nervousness and anxiety related to being physically active (for example worrying about harming themselves or their unborn child, not knowing what was safe to do or concerns related to pelvic floor and leakage). 74% said that they felt or would have felt more reassured to become or stay active if they had received advice and encouragement from a healthcare professional.[1]

The campaign also drives to a set of training resources on the Moving Medicine website. It’s worth noting that these includes a new set of patient-facing activity-specific guides developed by the Active Pregnancy Foundation, for example advice on resistance training for pregnant women and new mums.

Why focus on pregnant women and new mums?

Firstly, because Sport England insight shows that motherhood has a hugely significant, mostly negative, impact on activity levels. We are also seeing signs of an emerging downward trend in terms of activity levels over the last three years among women with 2+ children.

Secondly, many research sources imply that that the activity levels of mothers has a significant correlation with the activity levels of their offspring. Therefore, encouraging mothers to be active could be argued as a key way to improve the health and activity levels of the next generation.

Why healthcare professionals?

Research from the This Mum Moves project, which Sport England funded through ukactive, implies that healthcare professionals sometimes aren’t having these conversations during pregnancy and post-natally. Of a survey with 393 midwives and health visitors, 33% said they rarely or never talked about or gave physical activity advice to pregnant women.[2]

Various research sources implies that this could be because of a variety of reasons such as not feeling like they have the time or the knowledge and that it’s not a priority. Time and pressure on HCPs has also been significantly worsened by the pandemic and there are many hugely important topics to cover with women.

We have tried to tackle this by re-iterating the potential knock-on effect of regular activity on other topics that healthcare professionals may see as more pressing: for example, how regular activity reduces the rates of postpartum depression, improves emotional wellbeing and reduces the risk of preeclampsia, hypertensive disorders and gestational diabetes. 

If you would like to use any of the campaign imagery then this can be accessed on the This Girl Can supporter hub: https://www.thisgirlcan.co.uk/supporter-hub/branded-assets/healthcareprofessionals/

As a reminder the resources page is: https://movingmedicine.ac.uk/activemums/

Alternatively the Sport England/ This Girl Can posts on this subject could be re-shared. Thank you so much for any support you are able to give.








[1] Methodology: Savanta ComRes interviewed 1,097 Women in the UK between 19th and 21st November 2021. This included: 122 Pregnant and/or new mothers with children under 1. Data was weighted to be demographically representative of the UK population by gender, age, region, and social grade. Savanta ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

[2] spear (2018-2021), This Mum Moves Final Report, survey with 393 midwives and health visitors