Another reason to hit the gym? Regular prenatal exercise can significantly decrease your risk of a cesarean. That’s what a new report out of the University of Alberta has found after conducting a meta-analysis of 28 studies of more than 5,300 moms-to-be. The report, published recently in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, found that women who exercised regularly were 20 percent less likely to land in the operating room. If that’s not incentive to lace up your sneakers, we don’t know what is.
How is this possible?
In this study, researchers found that women who gave birth to smaller babies were less likely to deliver by C-section. This could be because larger babies (born at 8.81 pounds or more) may make safe deliveries difficult and have doctors recommending surgery. While there’s nothing sweeter than a pudgy newborn, big babies not only increase your risk of a C-section – but they also increase the likelihood that you’ll develop gestational diabetes. Further, babies born at a larger birth weight also are at risk for developing obesity later in life. The bottom line? A lower, healthy birth weight is ideal for both you and baby. Working out regularly can help keep baby’s growth in utero in check.
Why you don’t want a C-section
There are few women among us who would choose an elective C-section. While C-sections certainly have their place in labor and delivery, surgery mamas may miss out on the first moments of baby’s life. Though the tides are changing, many hospitals still whisk a newborn away from his or her mother for tests, clean-up and evaluation, leaving a new mom alone in the recovery room. On the other hand, moms who deliver vaginally can snuggle their sweet bundles almost immediately after birth, providing delivery didn’t present any complications. The recovery for surgery can be painful and long and the rate of complications and infections remains higher. If there’s a way to decrease your chance of a C-section, go ahead and take it.
To reap the protection exercise may offer against C-sections, researchers recommend following the guidelines set forth by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. In its recommendations, ACOG advises that moms-to-be exercise moderately for 30 minutes each day of the week. If you don’t currently exercise and would like to start, it’s best to talk to your doctor first.
Are you heeding this advice and working out regularly? What initially inspired you to start up at the gym during pregnancy? Share your story with other expectant moms in the comments below.