Exercise during pregnancy helps mom and baby

By • Published: February 18th, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

The number of Caesarean-sections performed in the United States has been increasing steadily over the years. That worries some people because C-sections are associated with infections at incision sites and increased risk of complications and maternal death.

But why are more C-sections are being performed these days?

Some studies have suggested exercise during pregnancy puts women at higher risk for having a C-section. But many of those studies have been based on small samples of women, leaving questions about how widely applicable the findings are.

Now, a new study of nearly two-thousand North Carolina women shows that women who exercise frequently during pregnancy are not more likely than others to deliver by C-section. Among women who delivered at term, those who exercised up to five or more times a week did not have increased risk of Caesarean compared with women who exercised less than once a week. Among women who had preterm deliveries, exercise seemed to protect against the need for a C-section.

Physical activity promotes overall health during and after pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as brisk walking helps maintain heart and lung health and improve mood. After delivery, exercise paired with good nutrition can help mom to return to a healthy pre-pregnancy weight. To ensure safety, women should start slowly and gradually increase the amount of activity over time. Moms-to-be should also avoid activities that involve lying on the back or that present a risk of falls or abdominal injury.

So go for it… but no pushups!