Pregnant women urged to exercise regularly to improve health during pregnancy

An information poster giving guidance on staying fit during pregnancy. EMN-170831-122016001
An information poster giving guidance on staying fit during pregnancy. EMN-170831-122016001

Health bosses in Lincolnshire are supporting new advice being given to expectant mums to exercise on a regular basis in a bid to reduce obesity, diabetes and other health concerns during pregnancy.

The latest evidence indicates pregnant women should carry out around 150 minutes of ‘moderate intensity’ activity each week.

It comes after the UK’s Chief Medical Officers jointly released the advice on physical activity – describing it as ‘activity that makes you breathe faster’ while still being able to hold a conversation.

Tracy Pilcher, chief nurse for NHS Lincolnshire East Clinical Commissioning Group - representing GP services and buying healthcare for patients in the county, said: “We encourage pregnant women at every opportunity to listen to their body and adapt their exercise regime accordingly. If it feels pleasant, keep going. If it perhaps starts to feel uncomfortable, then stop and seek advice when you can.

“We want mums-to-be to be aware of the benefits of being active throughout their pregnancy. Moderate exercise during pregnancy reduces hypertensive disorders, improves cardiorespiratory fitness, lowers weight gain and reduces the risk of diabetes.”

The CCG advises women who have not been active before pregnancy are recommended to follow a gradual progression of exercise. This may begin with 10-minute bouts of moderate intensity and gradually building up to 150 minutes over a week.

The new advice has been assembled by the UK Chief Medical Officer’s Expert Committee for Physical Activity and Pregnancy, which includes midwives, obstetricians, exercise physiologists, GPs, public health consultants, sports medicine experts and nursing scientists.

Health professionals are being encouraged to discuss the benefits of activity with all pregnant women.

Sue Jarvis, Lincolnshire Maternity Transformation Programme Manager, added: “This new advice is really good.

“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, there is no evidence of harm to mother or infant resulting from moderate intensity physical activity.

“But if you experience breathlessness before or following minimal exertion, headaches, dizziness, chest pain, muscle weakness affecting balance or swelling, seek medical advice.”

Meanwhile, Lincolnshire’s Maternity Transformation Programme has launched two new social media sites on Facebook and Twitter.

The platforms, which have gained hundreds of followers already, aim to keep parents, parents-to-be and NHS staff updated with developments in maternity services across the county. Posts will also contain health tips, facts and figures and news of upcoming events.

To follow on Facebook, search ‘Better Births Lincolnshire’ and to follow on Twitter, search for @BetterBirthLinc.