RESEARCHERS from the University of Portsmouth say that women should not be put off exercising by their baby bump.
According to research, specialist fitness clothing for pregnant women can reduce the bounce of the bump by half – even when running.
Testing specialist clothing against sportswear from high street retailers, the bumps of pregnant women wearing non-specialist fitness clothing experienced bounce movements almost twice as large as those wearing the specialist items.
The sports fabric, made from polyester and elastane, proved more effective for protecting the baby bump than the high street blend of viscose and cotton.
The experts leading the project are well-versed on the importance of breast bouncing, with this the first time that their knowledge has been put towards pregnancy instead.
Professor Joanna Wakefield-Scurr, who led the research, says that although it is a small-scale project, ‘the findings are compelling and statistically significant.’
Sophie Rej, who carried out the tests, said: ‘Fitness wear is an evolving market and new maternity fitness wear brands are emerging to meet the changing needs of a woman’s body during pregnancy.
‘Our tests on FittaMamma specialist maternity fitness wear reduced bounce of the bump in all directions by 48 per cent.
‘This suggests this clothing might help women overcome common barriers to exercise, such as pregnancy-related pain.’
Previous research has shown that while nearly half pregnant women take some form of exercise, very few do enough to meet health guidelines.
Medical guidelines, including the NHS, recommend that all healthy pregnant women should aim for 30 minutes exercise on at least five days a week to benefit themselves and their baby.
FittaMamma, the company that produces the specialist fitness wear, is a Sussex-based firm run by Deborah Hazeldean and Alexandra McCabe.
Alexandra said: ‘It fully vindicates what we believed, and we are hoping this will empower more women to keep exercising through their pregnancies.
‘The benefits of staying active are compelling and it’s a dreadful shame so many women stop exercising once they become pregnant.
‘Our aim is to remove the barriers to pregnancy fitness so women can continue to exercise with confidence and support.
‘This research shows this clothing provides measurable support for pregnant women, making a significant improvement to comfort and security, enabling them to carry on exercising right throughout their pregnancies.’
Additional independent research conducted by the university alongside the biomechanical testing process revealed that clothing was the third biggest barrier to pregnant women exercising.
Tiredness was the main barrier, while issues around the bump ‘getting in the way’ was the second.
All the women had taken part in some form of exercise before becoming pregnant and most were keen to continue.