This Girl Can launches first campaign for healthcare professionals
Research by Sport England has found that 64% of pregnant women and women with children under 1 have experienced nervousness or anxiety related to being physically active, either during pregnancy or in early motherhood.
A survey among healthcare professionals indicated that 33% rarely or never give advice on physical activity to pregnant women.
‘Active Mums Start With You’ is a new campaign from This Girl Can, to support and encourage healthcare professionals such as GPs, Midwives and Health Visitors to have more conversations with pregnant women and new mothers about the benefits of being active.
The campaign is supported by the Royal College of GPs, the Institute of Health Visiting and The Active Pregnancy Foundation.
A new survey from Sport England has revealed that 64% of pregnant women or women with children under 1 have experienced nervousness or anxiety related to physical activity. For example: worrying that they might harm the baby or themselves, worrying about which forms of activity are safe, or concerns related to their pelvic floor and leakage. Anxiety about what is and isn’t safe to do when pregnant and after childbirth is one of many factors, alongside fatigue and childcare responsibilities, that can prevent these women from being physically active. However, being active during pregnancy and postnatally can be hugely beneficial in supporting both the physical and mental health of mothers. Regular activity improves emotional wellbeing, reduces depression and hypertensive disorders, and reduces the risk of developing gestational diabetes.
In response, the award-winning This Girl Can is launching a new campaign, ‘Active Mums Start With You’. The campaign is designed to support GPs, Midwives and Health Visitors to proactively talk to and advise pregnant women and new mothers about activity in order to build their confidence and provide advice if they’re unsure what is safe to do. Healthcare professionals can have a positive influence on people’s activity levels, with 74% of women surveyed saying that they felt, or would have felt, more reassured to become or stay active as a result of receiving safety advice or encouragement from a healthcare professional.
A survey conducted with 393 midwives and health visitors indicated that 33% rarely or never talked about or gave advice on getting active to pregnant women - and 27% rarely or never gave advice to new mums. Previous research with healthcare professionals, focusing on GPs has found that omitting to discuss physical activity in appointments is often down to lack of time, knowledge & skills, confidence in raising physical activity and a lack of training.There are also many other important topics to raise with pregnant women and new mothers, with appointment times often being brief and time pressures exacerbated by the pandemic.
The campaign features imagery showing pregnant women and new mothers getting active in a variety of dynamic but safe ways - and reminds professionals of the positive influence they can have, stating that “active mums start with you.” The campaign links to a wide range of resources and training materials which support GPs, Midwives and Health Visitors to have these conversations. These include training that has been developed as part of the This Mum Moves project as well as a brand-new series of resources developed by the Active Pregnancy Foundation in collaboration with experts, which provide guidance on popular activities such as resistance training, dance and yoga for pregnant women and new mothers.
Frances Drury, Head of Activation at Sport England says: “Being pregnant and having a baby is a huge transition in life and it’s no surprise that staying active becomes even more of a challenge. Women often aren’t clear on what is and isn’t safe to participate in, and are often nervous about returning to being fully active after having a baby. We understand the enormous pressures that healthcare professionals are under, especially in the wake of the pandemic, but we hope this campaign serves as a positive reminder of the influence they can have over expectant and new mums - and the many mental and physical health benefits of regular activity.”
Dr Zoe Williams, Royal College of GPs Clinical Champion for Physical Activity & Lifestyle: “Evidence shows that being regularly active can have a positive impact on many conditions related to pregnancy and early motherhood, including depression. This is why we’re supporting this campaign, alongside the Institute of Health Visiting, as we want to help ensure our colleagues have all the information and advice needed to instigate brief, appropriate conversations about pregnant and postpartum physical activity with their patients.
The campaign assets can be accessed here: https://www.thisgirlcan.co.uk/supporter-hub/
The resources and training can be accessed here: https://www.movingmedicine.ac.uk/activemums
with thanks to Moving Medicine, The Active Pregnancy Foundation and The Institute of Health Visiting among others, whose resources are available on this page.
About Sport England
Sport England is a public body and invests up to £300 million National Lottery and government money each year in projects and programmes that help people get active and play sport. It wants everyone in England, regardless of age, background, or level of ability, to feel able to engage in sport and physical activity. That’s why a lot of its work is specifically focused on helping people who do no, or very little, physical activity and groups who are typically less active - like women, disabled people, and people on lower incomes.
About This Girl Can
Launched in 2015, This Girl Can is Sport England’s nationwide campaign to build women and girls’ confidence to be active, regardless of shape, size and ability – by celebrating them getting active on their own terms. It’s based on insight that 75% of women say they want to do more sport or exercise, but research shows they are persistently less active than men. A fear of being judged was one of the top barriers holding them back. And research shows that Covid-19 has made it even harder for women and girls to be active, with women struggling more than men to return to sport or activity. We want to tackle the gender activity gap, challenge conventional ideas of what women exercising look like and connect with women of all backgrounds, abilities and ethnicities who might feel that getting active isn’t for them. So far, This Girl Can has inspired nearly 4 million women to engage with getting active in their own way - no matter how they look, how well they do it or how sweaty they get.
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.
spear (2018-2021), This Mum Moves Final Report, survey with 393 midwives and health visitors
 AuYoung M, Linke SE, Pagoto S, Buman MP, Craft LL, Richardson CR, Hutber A, Marcus BH, Estabrooks P, Sheinfeld Gorin S. Integrating physical activity in primary care practice. Am J Med. 2016;129(10):1022–9. Chatterjee R, Chapman T, Brannan MG, Varney J. GPs' knowledge, use, and confidence in national physical activity and health guidelines and tools: a questionnaire-based survey of general practice in England. Br J Gen Pract. 2017;67(663):e668-e675. doi:10.3399/bjgp17X692513
 The This Mum Moves project was developed by ukactive, Canterbury Christ Church University and the Institute of Health Visiting