Pregnancy research leads to launch of national guidelines

10 May 2021

A set of physical activity for pregnancy guidelines has been released by the Australian Government Department of Health this Mother's Day.

The evidenced-based pregnancy guidelines come as a result of extensive research co-conducted by CQUniversity exercise science expert Dr Melanie Hayman and a group of researchers from the University of Queensland' led by Professor Wendy Brown.

Dr Hayman co-authored the guidelines and said they would provide evidence-based best practice recommendations for Australians on physical activity during pregnancy and in the postpartum period.

'These guidelines are applicable to all Australians who are pregnant' or are planning to become pregnant' as well as health professionals who provide care during pregnancy'' Dr Hayman said.

'The guidelines provide health professionals with evidence-based guidance on optimal physical activity during pregnancy and in the postpartum period. They may be used to encourage pregnant people to achieve levels of physical activity recommended for optimal health for them and their baby.'

Lead author Professor Brown said the guidelines highlight that pregnant women who were active before pregnancy can continue with physical activity during their pregnancy.

'If you were inactive before pregnancy' start slowly and build up your activity to meet the recommendations'' Professor Brown said.

'As your body changes during pregnancy' you may need to adapt your activities. Listen to your body and chat with your health professional for more help.'

In addition to the national health guidelines' Dr Hayman said the first Australian physical activity/exercise screening tool was also released yesterday (Sunday' 9 May).

'The screening tool is a user-friendly' evidence-based resource that can be used to help guide and support health professional in physical activity / exercise advice for pregnant women and was developed to act as a resource to help health professionals guide the physical activity / exercise behaviours among pregnant women'' Dr Hayman explained.

Dr Hayman said the screening tool aimed to act as a resource for health professionals to guide the exercise behaviours among pregnant women while also acting as a resource for pregnant women seeking evidence-based physical activity/exercise advice.

'Once the guidelines report was finalized we saw a need to develop the screening tool which was critically reviewed by peak industry bodies including Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA)' Exercise is Medicine' Fitness Australia and Sports Medicine Australia (SMA) and has now been endorsed by all peak industry bodies involved.'