Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride, along with his counterparts in England, Scotland and Wales, have jointly released new advice on physical activity for expectant mothers — believed to be the first of its kind in the world.
This new advice is being issued in the form of an infographic, aimed at providing midwives, nurses, GPs, obstetricians, gynaecologists, as well as the leisure sector, with the latest evidence on physical activity during pregnancy.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride said: “This new advice for pregnant women is designed to provide practical help about the types of activities that are safe to do during pregnancy.
“Participating in safe, responsible and appropriate physical activity whilst pregnant can have many health benefits. Research shows that taking regular physical exercise during pregnancy can boost the immune system, help to prevent health risks such as Type 2 diabetes in addition to improving mental health and wellbeing.
“We encourage pregnant women to listen to their bodies and adapt their exercise accordingly. As a general rule, if it feels pleasant, keep going; if it is uncomfortable, then stop and seek advice from your health professional.”
The new recommendations aim to reduce issues such as obesity, diabetes and other health concerns during pregnancy. Health professionals are encouraged to use this infographic to discuss the benefits of physical activity with all pregnant women, to help them maintain a healthy lifestyle, with approximately 1 in 20 women being recorded as obese during pregnancy.
Notes to editors:
1. The key points are:
- Pregnant women who are already active should be encouraged to maintain their physical activity levels.
- Women may need to adapt their activity throughout their pregnancy. For example, replacing contact sports with a non-contact sport or an appropriate exercise class.
- Importantly, the evidence supporting this infographic found no evidence of harm for maternal or infant resulting from moderate intensity physical activity.
- Those who were not active before their pregnancy are advised to avoid intense exercise, such as running, jogging, racquet sports, and strenuous strength training. But some activities can be adapted.
- The final safety message is a common sense ‘don’t bump the bump’, referring to all activities which place pregnant women at an increased risk of injury through physical contact.
- The study recommends pregnant women avoid activities where there is an increased risk of falling, trauma or high impact injuries. These include skiing, water skiing, surfing, off-road cycling, gymnastics, horse riding and contact sports such as ice hockey, boxing, football or basketball. They are also discouraged from exercise that requires lying flat on their back after the first trimester.
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