What does "moderate activity" mean?
When we talk about moderate activity we mean an activity that makes you breathe a little harder - you should be able to talk, but not sing!
Everybody's moderate will be a different depending on your base fitness, so it's important not to compare yourself to others.
How do I achieve 150 minutes of activity a week?
You can achieve your 150 minutes in any way you wish. There are no hard and fast rules because it's an accumulated total over the week. You may want to schedule in 21.4mins a day over 7 days (!) or be a little more flexible. It's entirely up to you.
It's important to note that any activity is better than nothing at all, so if you struggle to achieve the minutes then don't sweat it. We all know life can get in the way sometimes.
I'm in pain, what should I do?
STOP! Pain is the body's way of saying something's not right. Take a moment to assess what activity you're undertaking and consider whether you need to slow down, adapt or stop completely.
Many women experience pain during pregnany and certainly after their baby's birth - this is why we strongly advise adaptations to activity to accommodate changes in the body, and also postnatal recovery.
It's important to take time to recover after the birth of your baby and not return to physical activity too quickly. Please take a look at our advice on
What does the Active Pregnancy Foundation do?
We support women to stay active throughout pregnancy and beyond. We do this by providing expertise and advice to mums and mums to be, but also to fitness and healthcare professionals.
We want to change and challenge the culture around being an active mum, by dispelling myths and providing education.
We want to give women the the power to choose to be active if they want to be. We do this by breaking down the barriers to being active - be it a lack of information, lack of access to expertise or societal prejudiuce.
We also challenge the policies that may be holding women back - this could be a lack of funding for local facilties.
I'm not active, how do I start?
First things first, don't worry! It's never to late to start. Walking is a simple way to get going - in fact our survey told us that it's many women's favourite activity.
You may wish to enlist the help of a fitness professional, we strongly recommend that you ensure they have a pregnancy and postnatal qualification. Unfortunately there aren't that many around (which is something we're working on!), but you can find qualified personal trainers on this
Whatever your choose to do, go gradually. If you're pregnant, you'll need to adapt to your growing bump over time. If you've had your baby, give your body enough time to recover - we say at least 12 weeks - then start slowly and increase over time.
Should I be doing pelvic floor exercises?
In a word "yes"! It is important to start your pelvic floor muscle exercises as early as possible in the antenatal period and continue to do so after the birth of your baby when you are feeling well enough.
We recommend you seek advice and support about this from your named midwife, who can show you how to do this safely and effectively. If you have access to an obstetric physiotherapist, they can also advise you.
Do I need kit?
No. Going for a brisk walk doesn't require any additional kit.
If you go to the gym or classes then we do recommended a good quality sports bra.
It may be worth keeping an eye on your foot health too, and therefore the shoes you choose. During pregnancy relaxin will increase the flexibility of your ligaments, including those in your feet.
Can I breastfeed and be active?
Yes, absolutely! There's no evidence to suggest that activity will affect your ability to breastfeed.
We do recommend you get a bra with enough support to ensure your breasts don't feel uncomfortable. Breast pads are also a great idea, as they help with any leakage.
I train regulary, can I keep going throughout pregnancy?
Yes you can! It's important to note that you may need to adapt what you're doing as your pregnancy progresses. There are also some sports and activities we don't recommend:
Basically "Don't Bump the Bump".
We also advocate rest. Your body's physiology is being significantly challenge during pregnancy and it needs time to rest, repair and recover.
How quickly can I be active after the birth of my baby?
If you've had a straightforward birth, then try some light activities if you feel up to it e.g. walking, pelvic floor and deep stomach exerices. But, if you've had a c-section it's important to listen to your body and take time to recover.
After your 6-8week postnatel check you should aim to gradually build up to 150 mins of moderate activity throughout the week - and build up muscle strengthening activities twice a week.
If you were active during your pregnancy, that’s great, gradually reintroduce physical activities - but you may have to adapt them to start with.
If you weren't active during your pregnancy, don't worry, you can also start gradually.
Remember if you don't reach 150 mins, please don't worry. Something is better than nothing.
We do recommend daily pelvic floor exercises as soon as you feel able. Ask a qualified practitioner about the best and most effective way to do these.
If you choose to take part in intense physical activity we recommend you build up moderate intensity physical activities over a minimum period of three months and then, in the absence of any signs or symptoms of pelvic floor or abdominal wall dysfunction, introduce more intense activities gradually.
Will being active contribute to miscarriage or stillbirth?
There is no evidence that being active will induce miscarriage or increase your chances of experiencing stillbirth.
If you have a history of baby loss it's entirely understandable that you'd worry about the safety of you pregnancy. We do know moderate activity is hugely benefical for physical health, but also for mental health.
We advocate choice. No woman should feel forced to participate in activity if she doesn't want to. We just want to arm you with the facts, empowering you to make your own informed decisions.
I'm pregnant and have a disability - what should I do?
We know access to active spaces is already pretty tough for people with disability, it's therefore doubly tough if you're pregnant and you're looking for support with being physically active.
Nobody knows you body and your abilities better than you, so in the first instance our recommendation would be something is better than nothing. Also, your activity my look different but the principle is the same - engage in a moderate activity that gets you out of breath... so you can talk but not sing.
You'll need to adapt as your bump gets bigger and after you've had your baby it's just as important to take time to recover and reintroduce your activities gradually.
We're working to improve the information available for mums and mums to be with disability. Please bear with us... we're on it!
We'd love to hear your story though.... and we're looking for role model mums too. Do get in touch if you're interested.
Can I trust what you are publishing?
Absolutely. The guidance is evidence based and we have a highly qualified Scientific Advisory Board who provide oversight on any guidance we publish. We also have a board of Trustees who ensure the charity is run in accordance with the Charities Commission regulations.
My doctor/midwife hasn't told me to be active, does that mean I shouldn't be?
Are you healthy and experiencing an uncomplicated pregnancy? If so, you can choose to be active.
If you are experiencing complications, or are in any way unsure, then take time to discuss activity with your doctor or midwife.
You don't need permission to move, but there are medical conditions where moderate activity is not recommended.
Regarding activity after you've had your baby - the same principles apply.
I have morning sickness, should I be active?
If you feel well enough to be active, and you're experiencing an otherwise uncomplicated pregnancy, then go for it!
Even if you're feeling nauseous it's often helpful to get some fresh air and go for a walk.
Is running bad for my baby?
No - your baby is well protected in the womb, and running will not 'hurt' the baby. We do recommend that if you run regularly you adapt as your bump grows.
Remember to care for your feet too - relaxin will increase the flexibility of the ligaments, even those in the feet.
Will being active help with the birth?
To be honest it's difficult to predict whether being active will help with labour - there are certainly plenty of old wives tails about sporty or athletic women having better births.
Many factors will affect the body's ability to birth 'well', but being active and healthy will have a postive effect on recovery.
I'm not sure how to be active, should I pay a Personal Trainer?
Paying for professional help is entirely your choice - we do recommend you ask to see qualifications before hiring anyone.
Take a look at our
Resources for Mums & Mums to Be where you find links to the 'Active at Home' online videos (delivered by pre and postnatal qualified trainers) and registers of fitness professionals.
What does 'Activity' mean?
This is an interesting question to answer, and many people ask us why we don't use the terms 'fitness' and 'exercise'. Well, first up we know that for many women certain terms can be a barrier to becoming active. Fitness and exercise are often associated with gyms (and gym fees), lycra, weight lifting, and running. Not all of these activities are everyone's cup of tea.
Of course we are supporting women who are engaging in activity in many different ways and lots of them will be participating in regular 'exercise' routines, some may even be pro or semi-pro athletes. It's for this reason that we use the term 'activity'.
This definition may be helpful:
* Physical activity is defined as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that results in energy expenditure (Caspersen, Powell & Christenson, 1985).
* Physical activity: Any bodily movement produced by the skeletal muscles that results in a substantial increase over resting energy expenditure (Bo et al., 2016).
When is activity not advised during pregnancy?
Most women will be able to participate in low-to-moderate intensity activities during their pregnancy, this is because they are experiencing what's known as an 'uncomplicated pregnancy' i.e. they do not have any symptons or conditons that are caused or aggravated by their pregnancy.
Unfortunately some women will have symptoms or conditions where activity should be approached with caution or moderate activity is not recommended.
Let's start with the 'Relative Contraindications' i.e. conditions where activity should be approached with caution and discussion with a healthcare professional is advised.
These conditions include:
* Mild respiratory disorders
* Mild congential or acquired heart disease
* Well-controlled Type 1 diabetes
* Mild pre-eclampsia
* Preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROMs)
* Placenta previa after 28 weeks
* Untreated thyroid disease
* Symptomatic, severe eating disorders
* Multiple nutrient deficiencies and/or chronic undernutrition
* Moderate-heavy smoking (>20 cigarettes per day) in the presence of co-morbidities.
If you, or the mum-to-be you are caring for, has any of these conditions, the advantages and disadvantages of low-to-moderate intenstiy physical activity should be considered. Following discussion with a healthcare professional, activities may proceed subject to modifications, supervision and with continuous monitoring.
Now, let's look at 'Absolute Contraindications' i.e. conditions where moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity is NOT recommended and the risks outweigh the potential benefits and could result in the adverse effect for the mother and/or foetus, however, activites of daily living may continue.
These conditions include:
* Severe respiratory diseases (e.g. chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, restrictive lung disease, cystic fibrosis, etc.)
* Severe acquired or congential heart disease with exercise intolerance
* Uncontrolled or severe arrhythmia
* Placental abruption
* Vasa previa
* Uncontrolled Type 1 diabetes
* Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR)
* Active preterm labour (i.e. regular and painful uterine contractions before 37 weeks of pregnancy)
* Severe pre-eclampsia
* Cervical insufficiency
If you have any questions or concerns you must speak to your healthcare professional.
When is activity not advised after having a baby?
The great news is there's no evidence of harm for postpartum women to begin a gradual return to moderate intensity physical activity and strength training. The key is to listen to your body and start gradually, whatever your levels of activity before or during pregnancy.
There are some symptons you do need to look out for, and if you have any of the following then intense physical activity should NOT be resumed.
* Urinary and/or faecal incontinence
* Urinary and/or faecal urgency that is difficult to defer
* Heaviness / pressure / bulge / dragging in the pelvic area
* Pain with intercourse
* Obstruction defecation
* Pendular abdomen, seperated abdominal muscles and/or decreased abdominal strength and function
* Musculoskeletal lumbopelvic pain
If you not sure what these are and you are experiencing pain, then please seek advice from a healthcare professional or physiotherapist.
We recommend that postpartum mums should aim to gradually build back up to accummulating 150mins of moderate physical activity throughout the week - this should also include muscle strenghtening activities twice a week.
If you've had a straightforward birth, women can start gentle exercises as soon as you feel up to it. This could include walking, gentle stretches, pelvic floor exercises and deep stomach exercises.
After your 6-8week postnatal check 'your active' will depend on your activity levels before and during pregnancy. If you were active then gradually reintroduce physical activities, but you may need to change or adapt things intitially.
If you weren't so active then start gradually. Definitely try pelvic floor exercises, but ask for advice from a healthcare or physiotherapist if you're not sure how to do this.