Pregnancy Workout Reduces Risk of Caesarean Delivery

Moderate-intensity exercise three times a week especially after week 12 of pregnancy and until the third trimester reduces the risk of caesarean delivery according to research.

Exercise reduces the risk of caesarean delivery

According to researchers, exercise three times a week during the second and third trimester of pregnancy halves the risk of having a high birth weight newborn and, therefore, the risk of needing a caesarean delivery. The findings come from research conducted at three well-renowned universities in Spain together with Sports Science graduates.

“Sedentary” women were studied

The researchers ran a series of programmed training sessions with 510 pregnant women who participated in the study. All women were sedentary, that is, that they usually exercised for less than 20 minutes on fewer than 3 days a week.

55 minutes exercise three days a week

Half of the group followed a training program that consisted of 55 minute sessions of aerobic, muscle strength and flexibility exercises on three days a week from weeks 10-12 to weeks 38-39 of pregnancy. The other half of the group received standard recommendations and regular pregnancy check-ups.

The results

The results showed that the training sessions diminished the incidence of two major associated risks during pregnancy:

  • Reduced risk of a high birth weight newborn (macrosomia)
    Macrosomia means that a baby weighs over 4 kilos. The results showed that the risk of macrosomia declined by 58% for the group of women who exercised.
  • Reduced risk of caesarean delivery

The incidence of caesarean delivery fell by 34% for those women who participated in the training sessions.

The training sessions did, however, not reduce the incidence of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), that is, any degree of glucose intolerance or diabetes with onset or first recognition during pregnancy.

Encouraging pregnant women to exercise

These findings “reinforce the need to encourage more supervised exercise interventions during pregnancy to combat the negative effects of gestational diabetes mellitus,” says Jonatan Ruiz, researcher in the University of Granada, author of the study.

Key takeaways if you are pregnant
  1. Moderate-intensity exercise three times a week from week 12 of pregnancy halves the risk of having a high birth weight newborn and, therefore, the risk of needing a caesarean delivery.
  2. Exercising moderately 3 times a week during pregnancy is good for you and your baby’s health.

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