'Provide clarity and consistency': the practicalities of following UK national policies and advice for exercise and sport during pregnancy and early motherhood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In June 2017 the Chief Medical Officers of the United Kingdom released guidelines for exercise during pregnancy to be used by those in the healthcare and sport sectors when providing advice to pregnant women. These recommend pregnant women should take part in at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. This qualitative study employed a social-ecological framework to investigate the experiences of new mothers based in the UK and the practicalities of engaging in regular exercise during pregnancy and the postpartum period. An online qualitative questionnaire was completed by 200 UK-based women who had recently given birth. Ten of these participants then took part in a semi-structured interview. Qualitative data from the questionnaires and interviews were thematically analysed and 3 themes were generated as recommendations to the sector. The first theme was the importance of providing ‘trusted advice’ from reputable sources. The second theme was the need for provision of ‘safe, affordable sport and exercise options’. The final theme was the need for more ‘considered postpartum support’ for exercise, through further childcare options and a range of supportive environments for women to exercise within postpartum. The findings suggest that women’s sport participation tends to decrease during and after pregnancy. Women are officially recommended to maintain participation throughout these life-stages, but the current UK sport and leisure environment is not ideally suited to support this. Collectively the UK healthcare and sport sectors should work to provide trusted advice and considered sport and exercise options for pregnant and postpartum women.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Sport Policy and Politics
Early online date6 Aug 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Aug 2019



  • postpartum
  • physical activity
  • women
  • health
  • sport development
  • pregnancy

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