Prenatal Exercise Can Lower Risk of Cesarean Birth

About one in three women give birth through Cesarean deliveries, a startling fact that reflects an increasing national trend since the early 1990s, according to the Center for Disease Control. Women who have C-sections are more likely to return to the hospital, and their babies are more likely to require neonatal intensive care.

However, a recent study of pregnant women reveals that regular exercise may decrease the likelihood of medical interventions during delivery.

The study followed nearly 300 women from the first trimester through delivery. Perinatal experts designed exercises for each stage of pregnancy for the women to perform. The women exercised for about three hours each week, doing aerobic resistance, strength training for the muscles most affected by pregnancy and pelvic floor muscle training.

The biggest difference between the control group and the exercising group was the lower number of instrumental and Cesarean births in the exercising group. The researchers concluded that regular exercise reduces the rate of medical interventions during childbirth.

When considering prenatal exercise, remember these important factors:

  • Check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine to ensure you don’t have a condition that would contraindicate exercise.

  • Look for the credentials of an exercise instructor when starting a class. Only do exercise designed by prenatal experts.

  • Exercise at least 3 times a week to reap the benefits and keep your body accustomed to activity.

  • Listen to your body. Your ability to exercise will change throughout pregnancy as your body does. Scale back activity to accommodate for normal changes—it’s not a sign of weakness, but rather of the progression of your pregnancy. Always stop any activity that causes pain off discomfort.

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