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New postpartum movement study at UFV needs new moms

Moms will attend exercise programs online or in person for 12 weeks
Researchers at UFV are looking for new moms to participate in a 12-week study. (Pxhere)

Moms in the Fraser Valley with new babies are being recruited for a postpartum study that focuses at least partly on self-compassion.

Researchers at the University of the Fraser Valley are launching a multi-year project which will delve into postpartum physical and mental health.

Dr. Iris Lesser said the project is a new one, and will help new moms navigate some common postpartum issues, while studying the effect of different kinds of care. It’s a movement-based study, so participants will be asked to join in an exercise class that involves a mixture of yoga, tai chi and pilates. She is conducting the study with UFV’s Andrea Wurz.

“We want to help women feel more connected to their bodies and feel better about themselves post-birth,” Lesser said. That will mean including a segment on photography and exploring visuals throughout the program.

The moms will be divided into three groups for the study. One will join the 12 weeks of classes in person, one will join the classes online, and the third group will just be given information on how to be healthier. Those moms will be given access to the online classes after the study has completed, to be fair and accessible to all participants, Lesser explained.

All participants will be given heart rate monitors at the outset of the study, and will be required to document some information. That’s because in addition to encouraging and measuring self-compassion, the study will also be looking at heart rate variability. That is the variation of time between beats of the heart, and can be an important measurement that can document poor sleeping patterns, as one example.

While it would seem the end goal is seeing how active women can get after giving birth, the goal is actually to try to encourage balance and “slow things down” as part of the process of moms being easier on themselves.

The exercise program will by led by UFV’s Gillian Hatfield twice a week on the Chilliwack campus, and the study is open to those who have given birth in the past six months and who have been given clearance from their doctor to begin an exercise program.

They will be running the study in segments every six months, beginning in September and January until they have enough data to close it and compile some results.

To learn more about the study or volunteer to sign up, email

Jessica Peters

About the Author: Jessica Peters

I began my career in 1999, covering communities across the Fraser Valley ever since.
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