An innovative new research project is examining ways to help new and expectant mothers in disadvantaged areas stay fit and healthy, both during and after pregnancy.
Bump to Buggy is a multi-agency project involving Teesside University, Nouveau Wellbeing, Fuse – the Centre for Translational Research in Public Health, Tees Valley Sport and local councils.
It is developing ways to help pregnant women and new mothers to overcome barriers to physical activity – focussing on areas including time constraints, lack of social support and cost and accessibility.
It is particularly concerned with helping women who were physically active before pregnancy to maintain that lifestyle and identify actions that can be taken in order for new mothers to continue to exercise after they have given birth.
Bump to Buggy, which has been nominated for a Community Partnership Award, is working with women living in disadvantaged areas of Darlington and County Durham to raise awareness and improve skills and capacity for physical activity.
Pregnancy is a time of biological, psychological and social change for women. Pregnant women are often less active than non-pregnant women and as pregnancy progresses physical activity tends to decrease, which impacts negatively on their health and the health of their babies.
To address this concern, Nouveau Wellbeing, a community interest company based in Billingham which provides fitness and wellbeing programmes, was keen to develop bespoke activities that support active women to stay physically active during pregnancy and early motherhood.
Nouveau Wellbeing contacted AskFuse, a responsive research service run by Fuse – the Centre for Translational Research in Public Health, based within Teesside University’s School of Health & Social Care.
It was successful in securing funding from Sport England for the three-year physical activity programme Bump to Buggy.
The funding is supporting Teesside University PhD student Dr Murali Subramanian, whose work is centred around exploring the needs of pregnant women or new mothers who were previously active to help them to maintain physical activity during this period of change.
Being a sports and exercise medicine physician, Dr Murali will look at the barriers and enablers of participation, develop an intervention, pilot and test and disseminate the learning to health professionals and sports partners.
The delivery of activity will be supported by Tees Valley Sport, the County Sport Partnership hosted by Teesside University.
In recognition of the Bump to Buggy project, Teesside University and Fuse have been nominated for a Community Partnership award by Nouveau Wellbeing as part of their 10th Anniversary.
Dr Liane Azevedo, Senior Lecturer in Physical Activity and Public Health at Teesside University, is one of the PhD supervisors for the project, together with Professor Louisa Ells and Dr Peter van der Graaf (Teesside University) and Dr Louise Hayes (Newcastle University).
She said: “This is a great opportunity for our University to work on the development and evaluation of a physical activity programme to help women maintain their physical activity levels in a period when considerable changes are happening in their bodies and everyday life.
“The collaboration with Nouveau and the delivery partners will give the PhD student, Murali, a unique opportunity to develop a programme in partnership and seeing this implemented in practice.”
Bethany Ainsley, founder of Nouveau Wellbeing, added: “The whole team at Nouveau Wellbeing are really excited to launch the Bump to Buggy project which will offer a vital service to women across County Durham and Darlington during a significant time in their lives.
“Working with Teesside University and Fuse will really strengthen our offer and ensure learning from this project can be shared with a wider health network both locally and nationally.”