New study finds exercising during pregnancy could reduce the duration of labour

Research by the Technical University of Madrid has found that exercising during pregnancy could reduce the amount of time a woman spends in labour during childbirth.

The study divided 508 healthy pregnant women into two groups – 253 women were put in a control group, whilst the other 255 women were placed in an exercise group, who did moderate aerobic exercise three times a week.

Researchers used tests to analyse the differences between the groups and the affect the exercise would have on labour. Whilst the primary outcome studied was the length of labour, researchers looked at the mode of delivery, birthweight, the use of epidural and maternal weight gain.

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According to their findings, the women in the exercise group had a shorter duration of labour, with an average time of 450 minutes. The women in the control group had an average labour duration of 507 minutes. They also found the women in the exercise group had a much shorter first stage of labour, averaging 409 minutes compared to the control 462 minutes.

Results also revealed women who had exercised during pregnancy were less likely to use an epidural during birth.

The researchers concluded: “A supervised physical exercise program throughout pregnancy decreased the duration of the first phase of labour as well as the total time of the first two phases together, leading to a decrease in total labour time.”

The NHS recommends that women keep up their normal exercise routine for as long as they feel comfortable with during pregnancy, and to check with their GP if they have any concerns. According to recent advice, as a general rule, you should be able to hold a conversation as you exercise to ensure you are not over-exerting yourself.

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