New mothers should not be made to feel like they have to be picture-perfect in the age of social media, according to a campaign backed by the British Army.
The campaign aims to promote more realistic, authentic images of mums and mums-to-be in a bid to celebrate the joys of motherhood without the often staged or photoshopped, glossy portrayals of women that flood social media – often giving many new mothers false impressions with which many end up comparing themselves to.
The British Army has teamed up with The Active Pregnancy Foundation to support mothers by portraying them as they really are – with all the trials and tribulations that come with parenting. The campaign hopes to make new mothers feel more a part of the community, by giving everyday images of real mothers and realistic portrayals of motherhood more visibility across social media.
The APF was set up during the first UK lockdown in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic. It was founded by a group of women with a passion to change the health of the nation, one mum at a time.
LISTEN: Major Becca Meadows, Major Julia Brown and SSgt Lisa Bowden speak to BFBS, the Forces Station broadcaster Natasha Reneaux about the Real Mums Are Role Models campaign
PHOTO: SSgt Lisa Bowden enjoys keeping active with her child
The charity’s aims are to support women to stay active throughout pregnancy and beyond, by providing expertise, advice, changing culture and challenging policy.
This collaboration was developed from a series of new policies implemented by the British Army over the last couple of years, ensuring that all servicewomen have access to facilities, training, and support to enable them to become or remain active throughout pregnancy and beyond.
Mum of two young children, Major Becca Meadows, spoke to BFBS, the Forces Station broadcaster Natasha Reneaux about how the new policies have helped her, saying:
"I can say first hand that this new policy has come on leaps and bounds and will really really change the lived experience for so many new mums and mums-to-be within the army."
How Is The British Army Supporting Military Mums?
• The Royal Army Physical Training Corps has trained more than 955 Regular and Reserve physical training instructors to support pregnant women and those returning from maternity leave since October 2019.
• Army women returning from maternity leave are offered a supported reconditioning programme, before conducting full Army training.
• Servicewomen can access the Defence gym facilities that are nearest to their home when on maternity leave.
• Babies can be brought into Defence gym facilities, helping servicewomen to access the gym during their maternity leave.
• Army physical training instructors are trained to understand how to support breastfeeding women to continue physical training, encouraging them to feed or express before starting and to ensure they remain well hydrated through training.
• Defence women who develop muscular problems after pregnancy, such as separation of the tummy muscles or pelvic floor problems, are supported by a women’s health physiotherapist and exercise rehabilitation instructor for as many sessions as they need to get them back to fighting fitness.
• Defence have invested in research designed to see how effective a formal rehabilitation and physical development programme would be at improving occupational fitness, pelvic health, musculoskeletal function and psychological wellbeing following childbirth.
What Does The Future Look Like For Military Mums?
The APF sees the British Army as a shining example of what can be done to support mums and mums-to-be within an organisation, and looks forward to working with them now and in the future. Major Elaine Walker, Lead GP for Women's Health, British Army said:
“I am thrilled that the British Army have been able to partner up with the Active Pregnancy Foundation to support their #RealMumsAreRoleModels competition.
“As a GP I believe that reassuring and encouraging women to stay active during and after their pregnancies is vitally important; it benefits mental and physical wellbeing and reduces the risk of certain medical problems developing.
“I am very proud that British Army women have access to so much support to maintain their activity levels safely during and after pregnancy, including gym instructors who are trained in pre and post-natal fitness.
“I can’t wait to see the photographs and hear the stories of everyday women entering this competition, all helping to break down the barriers and stigma that pregnant and postnatal women face.”
How To Enter The Photography Competition
Active army mums are invited to enter The APF’s ‘Real Mums Are Role Models’ photography competition throughout May 2021 and to share their inspirational stories.
Discover more www.activepregnancyfoundation.org/campaigns
Selfies or portraits can be submitted via Instagram or Twitter.
The caption needs to include The APF’s social media handle and the hashtag #RealMumsAreRoleModels.
There is also an “Inspirational Story” category for mums who want to share their active motherhood journey.
The APF is looking for the best image in the following categories:
• Active Pregnant And Postnatal Mums
• Active Pregnant And Postnatal Black And Brown Mums
• Active Pregnant And Postnatal Mum with a Disability