The need for support
We know that pregnant people frequently come into contact with a range of professionals during pregnancy and following childbirth, but research has shown that there is a lack of clear and consistent physical activity information which often leads to pregnant people turning to informal sources for guidance or stopping activity completely.
We also know that inactivity during pregnancy puts women at risk of continued inactivity which means that they will be losing out on many of the physical and mental health benefits associated with an active lifestyle. There is also a strong correlation between activities of mum and behaviour of child.
Pregnant or post-natal people face many barriers to physical activity due to: gender, social and economical deprivation, possible development of long-term health conditions due to pregnancy, personal priorities and lack of specialist support and opportunities.
That’s why we want to support a healthy system across Cornwall to improve the physical and mental wellbeing of pregnant women and new mums by reducing the decline in physical activity levels during and after pregnancy.
Most common barriers for pre and post-natal people?
- Gender – fear of judgement (appearance, ability and priorities) – as identified by This Girl Can
Personal barriers to physical activity and exercise participation:
- a lack of motivation and confidence,
- substantial time constraints or lack of time
- reduced income
- pre and post-natal depression and/or physical trauma
- lack of appropriate equipment
- Competing priorities (1 looking after baby, 2 taking care of partners, 3 housework)
- lack of access to affordable and appropriate activities
- high cost of specialist classes
- poor access to public transport and/or inconvenient locations
- Nobody to look after baby or other children
- Change in social circle and lack of social support
- Lack of mental health support and no recognition of physical activity as treatment plan
- Little or inconsistent information and advice on physical activity from trusted sources, such as healthcare professionals and fitness professionals
- Lack of physical healthcare support
This Mum Moves Ambassador Network in Cornwall
This Mum Moves (TMM) is an educational programme which aims to empower women to make informed physical activity choices throughout pregnancy and beyond by providing professionals with the tools to discuss physical activity during the childbearing years.
The programme has been co-produced by women and professionals, previously piloted in five areas of England, and evaluated independently over the last three years. From 2022, the programme is being delivered in partnership by the Active Pregnancy Foundation (APF) and Institute of Health Visiting (iHV).
Nineteen professionals in Cornwall have started their journey to becoming This Mum Moves Ambassadors (Active Cornwall, maternity health, fitness industry, parenting charity, local authority).
As a result of the TMM workshop, our soon-to-be ambassadors all pledged to do things differently when promoting physical activity in their role, including, but not limited to:
- Start more conversations at all contacts, to make every contact count
- Offer advice themselves rather than always referring to specialists
- Offer more support and feel confident doing so
- Engage colleagues with this topic too
We will support them in their role to raise awareness through social media and deliver the 1-hr ‘This Mum Moves Awareness Session’ to their colleagues – creating a greater network of professionals who advocate for physical activity across Cornwall.
Kernow Parenting Journey
The Kernow Parenting Journey is a multi-agency programme led by Healthwatch covering the period from planning for pregnancy to two years old. Active Cornwall is represented on the Programme Development Group and has been successful in placing physical activity at the heart of pregnancy wellness.
Aim: To develop a new, contemporary educational model for parents preparing for pregnancy and birth through the postnatal period and up to two years into their parenting journey.
We have been heavily involved in the planning, design and production of the Antenatal Wellness Classes, which will be the first part of a pregnant person’s Kernow Parenting Journey – from 8-16 weeks.
The aim is to put physical activity at the forefront of antenatal wellness.
Resources for Professionals
We are creating a local network of professionals from the healthcare, local government, charity, fitness and leisure industry to share best practice, ideas and work together to support new mums with physical recovery and activity.
We are also ensuring our website is up-to-date with information for new families, which will link into the Kernow Parenting Journey once fully launched.
Pre-screening is an important first step in ensuring safe and enjoyable engagement with physical activities. The Get Active Questionnaire for Pregnancy (GAQ-P) has been designed to identify the small number of women who need to consult with a healthcare professional before they begin or continue to be physically active, and to help the majority of healthy pregnant women overcome any concerns they might have about getting or staying active. Ultimately, this self-administered pre-screening tool helps to empower women to take ownership of their health and wellbeing during their pregnancy. The Consultation Form, is then used by healthcare professionals, such as midwives and GPs, to help agree what physical activity is safe to start or to continue.