More women needed for study on how pregnant bodies change

Laura James
Source: 1News

Health experts hope they'll be able to provide better advice for mums-to-be, about movement and exercise, through a project looking at the evolution of a pregnant body.

Researchers at Auckland's AUT say there's limited insight right now and they're seeking a range of women to get involved with their study to help change that.

They need around 200 women to take part but they only have 15% of that signed up so far.

They had good numbers growing last year, but they've lost some due to Auckland's long lockdown, as many of the pregnant participants went on to have their babies.

Shar-nee Greenstreet, who's 32 weeks pregnant, has been involved in the research since pre-conception.

She's been able to see her statistics change throughout her journey, and has been interested in the way her feet became different.

Foot size is among the data being gathered by researchers.

They're also measuring balance, undertaking regular health checks and taking 3D scans.

Bio-Mechanics lead of the project, Dr Hannah Wyatt, said: "We don't currently have any research which tracks women throughout pregnancy looking at physical changes and movement changes so that is crazy."

She says mums-to-be often don't know how much movement is good, during pregnancy.

"They don't know what to do, they don't know what's safe, what's going to lead to pain and discomfort, what they should avoid."

Sabina Just, who's been a midwife for 25 years, said women ask a lot of questions about that.

"There is a lot of fear around exercising in pregnancy and I think it's a really important part to do during pregnancy but we don't know what to recommend."

Greenstreet said she was really active before pregnancy, but admits she's less active now.

"I still walk every day, but don't run.

"So many people don't know and so many people just stop doing any exercise during pregnancy."

Kelly Sheerin, a physio and sport and recreation lecturer at AUT said they're welcoming women to take part, no matter what stage of pregnancy they're at.

"But ideally we get them as early as possible and follow them through as long as we can.

"Every woman is different, every pregnancy is different.

"We're in a unique position in Auckland, our population is really diverse and we'd really like to see that across our study as well."

The project, called Physical Evolution Through Pregnancy is the start of a larger programme called 'Te Kukunetanga: Developing Cycle of Life Research Programme'.

Just said: "we have a number of side studies, for example, how emotions influence movement."

She said it could be "completely transformative."