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Water aerobics help delivery go swimmingly

November 21, 2008 | 11:34 am

Although more and more doctors recommend moderate exercise during pregnancy, studies have shown that expectant mothers usually fall short when it comes to workouts.

WateraerobicsSo here’s a little incentive to get moving: A new study published in the November issue of the journal Reproductive Health found that pregnant women who did water aerobics consistently throughout their pregnancy requested fewer painkillers during delivery than their peers who did no exercise. Water aerobics are often preferred by pregnant women since the water lends bouyancy, putting less strain on joints.

Researchers from the University of Campinas in Sao Paulo, Brazil, assigned 34 pregnant women to a water aerobics group that met three times a week for 50 minutes, and 37 to a control group that did no exercise. All women were previously sedentary and had low-risk pregnancies.

At the end of the study, the two groups showed some similarities: Both showed an increase in maximal rate of oxygen consumption (V02 max) during the second trimester, but that went down to baseline levels during the third trimester. Cardiac output also increased in both groups as pregnancy advanced. Labor duration was virtually the same as well.

But the groups split when it came to analgesics during delivery. Only 27% of the water aerobics group asked for them, while 65% of the non-exercise group made the request.

Everybody into the pool!

-- Jeannine Stein

Photo credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times