Pregnant women who exercise may be more likely to deliver vaginally than those who do not exercise, and may not be at risk for a premature birth, according to a recent study.

The study appeared recently in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Vincenzo Berghella, MD, Director of Maternal Fetal Medicine and Professor at the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, and his research team combined the data from nine separate studies in which pregnant women were divided into two groups. Among the 2,059 women who were included in the analysis, about half (1,022 women) exercised for 35 to 90 minutes three to four times per week for 10 weeks or up until their delivery, whereas the other half, (1,037 women) engaged in no exercise, according to a media release from Thomas Jefferson University.

All the participating women were carrying a single baby, had a normal weight to start with, and had no health conditions that prevented them from exercising.

The team found no significant increase in preterm birth (delivery before 37 weeks) in the women who exercised than in those who did not.

Also among the participants, 73% of the exercising women delivered vaginally, compared to 67% of those who did not exercise. In addition, 17% of exercising women underwent a C-section, versus 22% of those who did not.

There was also a lower incidence of gestational diabetes, and lower rates of high blood pressure, among the women who exercised, per the release.

“There are many reasons women pull back on exercise during pregnancy—discomfort, an increase in tiredness, and feeling winded by low-level exertion. This paper reinforces that exercise is good for the mom and the baby, and does not hold any increased risk of preterm birth,” Berghella says in the release.

[Source(s): Thomas Jefferson University, Science Daily]