Regular Exercise During Pregnancy May Affect Your Delivery
January 3, 2019
At the start of each new year, millions of people make resolutions. Often, those goals include incorporating a regular fitness routine into their lives. For women who are pregnant, or thinking of becoming pregnant, regular exercise may have additional benefits.1
Evidence shows that regular exercise during pregnancy may have a positive effect on labor and delivery. In fact, a group of researchers who sought out to examine the influence of an exercise program throughout pregnancy found that moderate exercise three times a week may reduce the need for an epidural and shorten the duration of labor.1
More than 500 women participated in the study. Half of the women were assigned to the exercise group between week 9 and week 11 of pregnancy. They began a moderate aerobic exercise program consisting of three weekly sessions. Under the supervision of a doctor, the women continued to exercise until the end of pregnancy.
How Regular Exercise Helped Study Participants
Overweight and obese pregnant women, and those who do not exercise regularly, are at an increased risk of macrosomia, which can cause other labor problems and uterine rupture.2,3 This condition, diagnosed by measuring birth weight after delivery, includes babies who weigh more than 8 pounds 13 ounces. The risks associated with fetal macrosomia increase greatly when babies weigh more than 9 pounds 15 ounces at birth.1 According to American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), women who are overweight have an increased chance of experiencing problems with their pregnancies, including macrosomia.2
Women in the exercise group had shorter first-stage labor with an average time of 409 minutes.1 Women who did not exercise were in first-stage labor for an average of 462 minutes. Second stage labor results were similar.2 For women participating in the study who exercised throughout pregnancy, overall labor was an average of 57 minutes shorter.1
Results also revealed that women in the intervention group were less likely to use an epidural; and that the prevalence of neonate macrosomia was higher in the control group.1
It’s important to note that before starting any exercise program pregnant women or women preparing for pregnancy should discuss their plans with their health care provider.
Recommendations to Support Positive Pregnancy Outcomes
In addition to a regular, doctor-approved exercise plan, pregnant women can support positive pregnancy outcomes by following ACOG recommendations about nutrition, including taking a prenatal supplement.2
It’s especially important for pregnant women to get extra folic acid and iron, as well as other required vitamins and minerals through food. It may however be difficult to get the recommended daily amounts of both folic acid and iron from food alone. A prenatal supplement offers additional support to help fill in the gaps.2
Prenate® Vitamin Family offers a line of prescription nutritional supplements designed for all stages of pregnancy, from preconception through postpartum. Prenate® vitamins are formulated with the latest recommendations from obstetric and pediatric organizations in mind. Plus, nutrient forms are selected for their tolerability and absorbability. Talk with your doctor about whether a prescription prenatal vitamin from the Prenate® Vitamin Family may be right for you.