CRDAMC Homepage | CRDAMC Library Phone #: (254) 288-8366 | CRDAMC Library Fax #: (254) 288-8368

Search Health Library

Exercise Associated with Healthy Baby Weight

Prenatal care can increase health benefits for both mother and baby as well as reduce the risk of certain complications. It not only includes seeking medical care but also adopting certain lifestyle habits. Good nutrition and regular physical activity have both been linked to a number of benefits including a healthy birthweight for babies.

Researchers from Canada wanted to estimate the influence of structured prenatal exercise on birth weight. A secondary assessment was done on the rate of cesarean since one reason for cesarean is a larger than normal fetus. The study, published in The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, found that that structured prenatal exercise reduces the risk of having a large newborn without increasing the risk of low birth weight babies. Exercise was also associated with a lower risk of cesarean section.

About the Study

The meta-analysis included 28 randomized trials evaluating exercise interventions in 5,322 pregnancies for which birth size information was available. Participants were assigned to a standard prenatal care group or a standard prenatal care group plus supervised prenatal exercise group of at least 1 exercise session every 2 weeks throughout the study duration.

Participants who were in the prenatal exercise group were:

  • 31% less likely to have a large newborn (birth weight of 8.8 pounds)
  • 20% less likely to need cesarean section
  • no more likely to have a low birth weight baby than those without exercise program

The mothers that participated in the regular exercise program also gained less weight than those in the group that did not receive the exercise intervention.

How Does this Affect You?    TOP

A systematic review is considered a highly reliable form of research because it includes a large number of participants. However, the review is only as reliable as the studies that make it up. This systematic review contained randomized trials, which is generally a reliable form of research; however, most of the included trials were low to moderate quality. The low quality can decrease the reliability of the outcomes.

This study supports previous trials that have found that exercise during pregnancy may provide benefits like healthy weight for mom and baby. This study also did not find a link between exercise and harmful outcomes like low birth weight. Which exercise program is chosen will depend on the individual. If a mother was active before pregnancy, most can continue their program through pregnancy with minor modifications. Starting a regular routine during pregnancy can also be effective but should be done in consultation with the doctor. As with any pregnancy, working with a pregnancy professional is important. Work with your team to talk about challenges for your physical activity program.

Resources

American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology
http://www.acog.org
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
http://www.familydoctor.org

Sources:

Cesarean delivery. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated June 18, 2015. Accessed June 26, 2015.
Wiebe HW, Boulé NG, et al. The effect of supervised prenatal exercise on fetal growth: a meta-analysis. Obstet Gynecol. 2015 May;125(5):1185-1194.
Last reviewed June 2015 by Michael Woods, MD

EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at healthlibrarysupport@ebsco.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.

Health Library: Editorial Policy | Privacy Policy | Terms and Conditions | Support
36000 Darnall Loop Fort Hood, Texas 76544-4752 | Phone: (254) 288-8000