What can doctors do to help mothers with safe postnatal exercise?

In a recent interview published in Medical Women, I shared my advice with Dr Sara Khan on the important role doctors can play in helping mothers get started with safe pre and postnatal exercise.

Doctors (along with midwives and health visitors) are the professionals we really rely on and trust, to explain what exercise is safe and effective during and soon after pregnancy.  I am passionate about supporting them with this important responsibility.

You can read my full interview with Dr Khan here: Advice for doctors on postnatal exercise: Medical Women’s Federation

And here are some high-lights of what we discussed…

First, we talked about some of the very real challenges facing mothers

Mums often confuse “self-care” with “selfishness” falsely believing they must put every moment into their baby to do a good job.

Every man and his dog has an opinion on how a mother should give birth; feed her baby; and balance work with family commitments. The pressures are astonishing.

One of the most important things for mothers to hear is acknowledgment of the challenges they face.

I shared some of important messages doctors can give their patients to overcome common concerns about postnatal exercise

Research published this year in the Journal of Pediatrics by Dr Esther van Sluijs, found that the amount of activity that a mother and her child did each day was closely related… so we can now confidently tell patients “being active makes you a better mother”.

One valuable reassurance for mothers is that exercising and breast-feeding is safe. Dehydration can reduce milk supply, but exercise itself does not. In fact, the benefits of being out in the fresh-air, building self-confidence and reducing stress are all thought to improve breast-feeding.

And I suggested how best to advise patients on getting started with postnatal exercise (in the tiny amount of time doctors often have for this)

Two of the most important things to start with are improving posture (especially addressing lordosis) and pelvic floor muscle training. Most mothers can attend to these areas immediately after birth.

A good goal will motivate the patient over an extended time period, the best ones are specific and positive.

Read more in the full article published in Medical Women this month:

At Ready Steady Mums we are committed to supporting medical professionals with the vital role they can play for mothers getting active. Visit our page for midwives, health visitors and GPs, for advice on helping new mums set up walking groups.


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One Comment

  1. I am really interested in recieving more information on when it is thought a good time to start running following child birth , distances that should be considered etc. I am a qualified run leader and would love to develop sessions with families.

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