Your Pregnancy Workout Routine Could Lower Your Risk of a C-Section Birth

Photo: Veer / The Bump
Photo: Veer / The Bump

Exercising while pregnant may be another way to avoid a C-section birth.

A new study conducted by Spanish researchers at the Universidad Politecnica de Madrid finds reduced medical intervention during delivery among the many benefits of regular exercise throughout pregnancy.

The study followed nearly 300 women from the first trimester through delivery. Participants performed a routine of exercises designed by perinatal fitness experts specific to the various stages of pregnancy. Participants started the routine between 10-12 weeks gestation and continued until 38-39 weeks under the supervision of prenatal fitness experts. The routine lasted 50-55 minutes and was performed 3 times per week. Exercises included aerobic resistance, strength training for the muscles most affected by pregnancy, and pelvic floor muscle training. The control group did not perform any regular exercise routine.

While the study measured many factors, the most notable results according to researchers was a marked difference in the rate of instrumental and Cesarean births in the exercising group, leading them to conclude that regular exercise reduces the rate for medical interventions during childbirth. When publicizing their findings, researches stated the belief that a number of difficulties during pregnancy result from poor lifestyle choices: sedentary with poor nutrition and poor posture. The hope is that the study’s findings will encourage women to engage in safe and appropriate exercise throughout pregnancy to improve overall health and quality of life.

Remember these important factors when considering prenatal exercise:

1. Get your doctors approval before beginning any exercise program to be sure you do not unknowingly have a condition that would contraindicate exercise.

2. Look for credentials when starting a class or program. Only do exercise designed by experts for the prenatal population. Consider this: a personal trainer is not a medical professional. Ask for special training or credentials to be sure the recommended exercises are safe for the various stages of pregnancy.

3. Be sure to exercise regularly, a minimum of 3 times per week, in order to reap the cumulative benefits of exercise and to keep your body accustomed to activity, helping to avoid strain or injury.

4. Listen to your body. Your abilities will change throughout pregnancy as your body changes drastically over time. Scaling back activity to accommodate for normal body changes is not a sign of set-back or weakness, it is rather a sign of the progression of your pregnancy. Always stop any activity that causes pain or discomfort.

Did you feel your prenatal routine prepared you for a vaginal birth?

Plus, more from The Bump:

Best Pregnancy Workout DVDs

Your Guide to Pregnancy Nutrition and Exercise

What are the Exercise Dos and Don’ts During Pregnancy?