Prenatal Exercise Improves Pregnancy Outcomes
Becoming pregnant and carrying a child for 40 weeks is no small task. Despite advances in modern medicine, pregnancy always carries risks, for mother and child alike. We’ve learned over the years that nutrition is quite important, for instance, especially in the first trimester. A growing fetus needs ample B-vitamins, for example, to help prevent neural-tube defects, such as spina bifida. And intake of omega-3 fatty acids, from foods such as salmon, are crucial for optimal brain and nervous system development.
Of course, it’s also important to avoid or eliminate certain toxins from mom’s environment. Even alcohol in small amounts can damage growing babies, for example. And if there was ever a time to avoid pesticides and other toxins, early pregnancy is that time. Growing babies are especially sensitive to the effects of environmental toxins. Even radiation exposure during early pregnancy can have negative consequences on the growing child, so women are always advised to avoid having X-rays if pregnant.
Most of this advice is standard, and now seems like common sense. But what else can a mother do to ensure her baby will be carried full term, and delivered naturally? The number of cesarean sections performed in the United States is distressingly high. Some babies born this way tend to be unusually large. Being either too big or too small at birth carries certain risks. Ideally, pregnancy should result in natural labor and delivery, yielding a healthy-weight baby.
According to research conducted at the University of Alberta, supervised exercise during pregnancy may help improve outcomes by increasing the chances of having a natural delivery, and a normal-weight baby. "We found that women who exercised had a 31 per cent reduction in the risk of having a large baby without changing the risk of having a small baby or an earlier baby," said lead researcher Margie Davenport, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation. "Further, the risk of having a Caesarean section was reduced by 20 per cent." The findings, published in Obstetrics & Gynecology, are important because babies who are large at birth tend to be heavier as children and into adulthood.
Retrieved May 15, 2015 from: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-05/uoa-pel051215.php
Henry W. Wiebe, Normand G. Boulé, Radha Chari, Margie H. Davenport. The Effect of Supervised Prenatal Exercise on Fetal Growth. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 2015; 125 (5): 1185 DOI: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000000801