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Life-Saving Info Every Pregnant Woman Needs to Know

Need some extra motivation to get your pregnant body to the gym? In addition to weight control and pain relief, exercising throughout pregnancy could save your life and the life of your child, according to new research published this month in The British Journal of Sports Medicine.

When Spanish researchers put a group of sedentary pregnant women on an exercise program—a combination of moderate-intensity aerobic and resistance training for 55 minutes, three times per week—they found that the benefits the women experienced during their second and third trimesters were twofold:

•    Compared to a non-exercising control group, moms-to-be who worked out regularly were 58 percent less likely to deliver a baby weighing more than 8 pounds, 13 ounces. This is significant because high birth weight is associated with a greater risk of death for both mothers and newborns and has also been linked to higher instances of obesity, heart problems, and leukemia later in the child’s life, the researchers said.

•    Consistent exercise also led to a 38-percent drop in cesarean sections, a surgical delivery procedure that can lead to complications such as infection, blood loss, respiratory problems, and adverse reactions to anesthesia.

Although it’s unclear exactly how exercise helps, researchers believe it may help reduce insulin resistance, a condition that can contribute to gestational diabetes, which is linked to high birth weight and a greater risk of having a cesarean delivery.

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