New DECIPHer research has found benefits to physical activity in pregnancy independent of bodyweight.
Research led by DECIPHer’s Kelly Morgan has shown that women who stay active in pregnancy are more likely to have a normal birth, without the need for a caesarean or the use of instruments such as forceps. In the study, published in PLOS One, the team analysed anonymous data on 466 women. They looked at body mass index (BMI) and objectively measured activity levels over seven days.
They then examined what happened at the time of birth: how many of the women required an induction; how long they were in labour; how the baby was delivered; the health of the baby; and how long they stayed in hospital.
The researchers found that women with low activity levels had twice as many forceps/ventouse deliveries, and a significantly higher rate of caesarean births, compared to women with high activity levels. Importantly, this association was found to be independent of the mother’s weight.
Our findings provide positive news for pregnant women. Often women are apprehensive about the process of childbirth and the uncertainty of needing medical interventions.
Our results suggest that maintaining an active lifestyle during pregnancy is an avenue for promoting an intervention-free birth. This is something all women with complication-free pregnancies can take advantage of.
– Kelly Morgan, lead researcher