• 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[1] . 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[1].

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[2].

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[[3]][[4]] . 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[5] 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.

Webinar for healthcare professionals

To support the launch of the Sport England and This Girl Can healthcare professional-focused campaign, Active Mums Start With You, the Active Pregnancy Foundation and Institute of Health Visiting (iHV) are delighted to bring you a live webinar on the importance of healthcare professionals’ role in supporting and promoting active lifestyles during and beyond pregnancy.

You will be given an overview of:

  • Current guidance
  • Resources
  • Opportunities to support your practice

We will also be sharing the next steps in the This Mum Moves programme, including new training events for March 2022.

DATE: 9 December 2021

TIME: 15:00 – 16:00


Limited places available!


[1] 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.

[2] spear (2018-2021), This Mum Moves Final Report, survey with 393 midwives and health visitors

[3] 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.

[4] 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

[5] The This Mum Moves project was developed by ukactive, Canterbury Christ Church University and the Institute of Health Visiting

Close to 551,000 people in the UK are managing a mental health condition.  A large proportion of these are women who may be contemplating pregnancy or are at risk of unplanned pregnancy.

A partnership, comprising Tommy’s, Public Health England, NHS England and King’s College London, has developed a set of supportive resources for women with mental health conditions who are planning a pregnancy or may wish to become pregnant in the future.

Mental health conditions can refer to a wide range of conditions. The new resources have been developed to specifically offer support to those who have been diagnosed with a mental health condition, including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, severe depression and psychosis. They aim to help women with SMI make informed decisions around when to get pregnant, what to watch out for and how their condition could be treated before, during and after pregnancy.

The resources include new online information and support hub for anyone with severe mental illness (SMI) planning a pregnancy, as well as practical guidance for the frontline healthcare professionals who support them. Tommy’s has also updated their Planning for Pregnancy tool so that users with severe mental illness get specific tailored advice.

#PregnancyInformation #SupportWithMentalHealth #TryingToConceive #ttc #Preconception #TryingForABaby #FreeResources #MentalHealthMatters


Here are Top 5 tips for anyone planning a pregnancy with a diagnosed mental health condition, click on the video below:

A resource focusing on reproductive choice and ensuring that pregnancy, if desired, occurs at the right time and when health is optimised.

This resource for professionals working with women and men that may have children in the future focuses on reproductive choice and ensuring that pregnancy, if desired, occurs at the right time and when health is optimised. Effective contraception and planning for pregnancy mean that women and men stay healthy throughout life and take steps to improve the health of the baby.

Guidance for health professionals to share with pregnant women immunised with MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), chickenpox or shingles vaccines.

This advice provides information on the safety of each vaccine when given in pregnancy for health professionals to share with pregnant women who have been inadvertently vaccinated.

Tommy’s, in partnership with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), Public Health England (PHE) and the UCL Institute for Women’s Health, has launched a digital tool today to give women all the information they need to know before pregnancy.

There are several key steps that can be taken before conception to improve fertility, pregnancy health and the baby’s future health. However, before women become pregnant, they are often not talking to health professionals and many are not aware of about how they can reduce their risks.

The tool is being launched this week with a national #AreYouReady campaign to raise awareness of the importance of planning for pregnancy as a factor in having a safe and healthy pregnancy.

In a survey of more than 750 women, pregnancy health charity Tommy’s found that the majority of women put a lot of thought and planning into an annual holiday. When it comes to trying for a baby, however, most of us aren’t aware there is anything to do other than stopping contraception.

The survey found that 67% of women plan for three or more months for a holiday, compared to 20% planning for three or more months for a pregnancy. Just under 40% of respondents said they stopped using contraception the same week they made the decision to have a baby, leaving little time to make any change that might affect the health of pregnancy and baby, such as taking folic acid, improving diet and achieving a healthy weight.

The survey also found a big difference between the perception of how long it takes to get pregnant compared to the reality. More than a quarter of women surveyed (25.3%) became pregnant within one month compared to fewer than 5% expecting this to happen.

The hub includes comprehensive information about all the topics women planning a pregnancy need to know about, from healthy diet and exercise, to taking folic acid.

The #AreYouReady campaign

The campaign to launch Tommy’s new Planning for Pregnancy digital tool (#AreYouReady) plays on the idea that women are currently not aware that there is anything to be done before getting pregnant, and thus they do not plan for it as they do for other events in their lives, such as holidays or moving home.

The campaign aims to educate and inform women aged 18-40 of the importance of looking after yourself and making behaviour changes before pregnancy.

This includes

  • taking folic acid at least two months before pregnancy
  • quitting smoking
  • maintaining or coming closer to a healthy weight (BMI)
  • adopting healthy eating behaviours
  • staying active or becoming more physically active before pregnancy
  • speaking to a GP if taking medication for a mental or physical condition.

#AreYouReady campaign film

Published by Public Health England (PHE) and the Local Government Association, Good progress but more to do: teenage pregnancy and young parents provides case studies and practical information.

It is over 15 years since the then government launched its Teenage Pregnancy Strategy in response to England having one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in Western Europe. Since then, thanks to the hard work of councils and their partners, the under-18 conception rate has dropped by 60 per cent and the proportion of teenage mothers in education and training has doubled.

As time has gone by it has become clear what works. Evidence shows that high quality relationships and sex education (RSE), welcoming health services (in the right place, open at the right time) and friendly non-judgmental staff, help young people to delay sex until they are ready and to use contraception effectively.

The iHV is delighted to be able to share the outputs from working with Greater Manchester and North West Coast iHV PIMH Champions Forum, the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London and others to develop the research base for eating disorders in the perinatal period. We are excited to be supporting the launch of the “Eating Disorders in Pregnancy” animation through a training event on 28 February 2018 (during Eating Disorders week).

Eating Disorders are a serious mental illness, characterised by disturbance of eating that significantly impairs health and psychosocial functioning.

They include:

  • Anorexia Nervosa
  • Bulimia Nervosa
  • Binge Eating Disorder
  • and Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders

They are often associated with depression and anxiety, and have a number of physical, health complications as well.

Eating Disorders can affect people of all ages, gender and cultural background. It is thought that around 7% of women are thought to have an eating disorder in pregnancy and they can have serious consequences for the mother and her baby.

Health visitors are ideally placed to identify and support pregnant women and new mothers who have eating disorders. Involvement with families, right from the antenatal period through until children reach school age, enables a unique opportunity to build strong therapeutic relationships offering the continuity of care that mothers say they want from their healthcare professionals.

The “Eating Disorders in Pregnancy” training event, including the animation launch, is free to attend and we very much look forward to seeing you there!

Event details

Date: 28 February 2018

Time: 4pm – 6pm

NEW VENUE: the event has been moved to a larger venue so that more people can attend

Wolfson Lecture Theatre, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London,
16 De Crespigny Park, Denmark Hill, London SE5 8AF

To book your free place


This review brings together recent evidence on improving health and wellbeing before, during, and after pregnancy from studies funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

It brings together research for factors that can be modified before, during and after pregnancy. the research covers smoking, healthy diet and weight, alcohol and drugs, mental health, violence against women, and supporting families using multifaceted approaches.

Better Beginnings is not a comprehensive review of all evidence on improving health for pregnancy which is a broad area of knowledge and practice.  It focuses on building health for women to support pregnancy and the future health of their children.

This review complements other initiatives, drawing on best evidence, including guidance and quality standards from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Further sources of information and resources for each topic are signposted in this report.

The Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group has published a new infographic: E-cigarettes in pregnancy: information for pregnant women.

The infographic provides key information to pregnant women who are considering using electronic cigarettes to help them quit smoking. Please do feel free to share it with stop smoking teams as well as any professional networks who may find it useful.

Additional resources on smoking cessation and smoking in pregnancy more generally include:

If you have any questions or would like to join ASH’s Smoking in Pregnancy and Harm Reduction Yammer Groups please email [email protected].