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Pregnant women not exercising and big babies on the rise

Jenny Decker RN's picture

A recent study has shown that when pregnant women do not exercise the result could be bigger babies. Big babies are not necessarily a good thing. When a woman does not exercise while pregnant baby size might increase. Heavier birth weight puts both the mother and the baby at a higher risk for complications.

Big babies, those over 8.8 pounds, increase problems with delivery, possibly increasing the possibility for cesarean sections. Other problems include postpartum hemorrhage, low APGAR scores, and an increased risk for obesity in later life (for the baby).

HealthDay reports that the study was published in the October issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology. The study included over 37,000 women who delivered at the earliest 37 weeks. In the Norweigan Mother and Child Cohort Study, all the women were pregnant with their first child. 2/3 of the women were normal weight with 20% overweight, but not considered obese. This study monitored the effects of lack of exercise in pregnant women and the subsequent increase with baby size.

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In the study, exercise before the pregnancy did not have any effect on the size of the baby. Exercise in women pregnant with their first child decreased the likelihood of big babies by 28%. The researchers explained that it should not be difficult for women to begin to exercise when they become pregnant as they often develop healthy habits in anticipation of healthy babies anyway.

The effects of exercise do not have such a powerful impact on women with subsequent pregnancies. It is not fully understood why at this time, but this presents the perfect opportunity to do more research into the benefits of exercise for pregnant women and the effects on their babies.

There are precautions that pregnant women must take when exercising. The first is to avoid any exercise that puts the woman flat on her back. This prevents blood flow to the baby and the mom. Avoiding contact sports is also recommended as blunt force to the abdomen may injure the baby. Anything where falling is a risk is also cautioned against. The pregnant woman should monitor her heart rate, making sure it does not go over 120 beats per minute. This keeps the blood flow to the baby adequate.

Written by Jenny Decker, RN
Exclusive to eMaxHealth