Two James Cook University students want to understand how body image and personality can affect exercise during and after pregnancy.
Regular exercise during pregnancy can achieve significant physical and mental health benefits for both mother and baby, but it’s currently not known what role body image and personality play.
Exercise Physiology honours student Loren Kirkwood and Master of Psychology (Clinical) student Jessica Bowie want to understand the relationship between exercise behaviours and motivation, as well as the barriers to healthy lifestyle choices for women who are currently pregnant, or who have recently given birth.
“Exercise is hugely beneficial for both mental and physical health across the general population, extending to the prenatal and perinatal period,” Ms Kirkwood said.
“It can help facilitate a healthy pregnancy, birth and postpartum recovery but it can be scary and, at times, overwhelming to not know how to safely undertake exercise during this time.”
The mental and physical well-being of mothers during the prenatal and perinatal period is an important time for both mothers and infants, and it can have significant outcomes for children later in life.
Ms Bowie said it’s important to consider the social and emotional factors present during this time.
“Ideologies such as ‘yummy mummies’ are potentially putting unnecessary and unrealistic pressure on new and expectant mothers,” she said. “Postnatal and prenatal depression have a 10 to 30 per cent prevalence in Western countries.
“This research will help clinicians in both psychology and exercise physiology to understand underlying factors that influence the exercise behaviour of these women and consequently support their mental and physical well-being.”
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(Source: James Cook University)