For several years now pregnant woman They are advised to perform an adapted exercise if it does not pose a risk. A team from the Polytechnic University of Madrid (UPM) has published six full studies on the effects of different forms of physical activity during this period in the maternal, fetal and newborn organism, confirming that it has benefits for both and that these also extend beyond birth.
The work led by Rubén Barakat shows that physical activity during pregnancy reduces the risk of perineal tears by 50% and the risk of urinary incontinence by 20%. Both are factors of great importance for the female organism and are becoming more and more common today.
According to the authors, this is primarily due to current lifestyles, the consequences of which not only affect the physical or physiological sphere of women, but also relevant aspects of a psychological and emotional nature.
In addition, exercise during pregnancy reduces the likelihood of a cesarean section by 21% and that of an instrumental delivery by 16%. Likewise, a shortened duration of the first stage of labor (on average 62 minutes less) is observed in active women throughout pregnancy.
Finally, specialists have confirmed that with a physically active mother during pregnancy, there is a lower risk (minus 21%) of macrosomia with a more adequate birth weight, which could be caused by a more balanced intrauterine environment from the point of view of pregnancy. metabolic view.
“This peculiarity forces us to investigate the possibility of physical activity during pregnancy as a preventive factor for pre-, peri- and postnatal (early childhood) metabolic complications, paying particular attention to the worrying and growing prevalence of overweight and obesity in childhood, as shown by recent scientific evidence, due to the intrauterine metabolic imbalance before birth mentioned above,” explains Barakat, researcher at INEF-UPM.
“It is simply a matter of preventing complications that manifest later from the very beginning of the human pregnancy process; that means acting before the possible change or even pathology arises,” he adds.
Encourage exercise during pregnancy
For researchers, the importance of this work is that it provides clear evidence of the need to promote physical activity during this time.
“Despite the confirmed positive effects that physical activity has shown in recent years on maternal and fetal well-being, less than 20% of pregnant women on the planet adhere to the recommendations of international organizations, including the WHO. to maintain a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. In Spain the situation is similar (19.7%),” Barakat continues.
Despite the confirmed positive effects that physical activity has on maternal and fetal well-being in recent years, less than 20% of pregnant women on the planet adhere to the recommendations
For the researcher, these data can become a tool for public authorities and scientific institutions to change this situation.
“The involvement of various institutions, particularly the health and science sectors, is necessary to promote interventions based on existing scientific evidence. The results should be used to develop ambitious and comprehensive exercise programs for the pregnant population,” he concludes.
Dingfeng Zhang et al. “Influence of pelvic floor muscle training alone or as part of a general physical activity program during pregnancy on urinary incontinence, episiotomy, and third- or fourth-degree perineal tears: Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials.” Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand 2023.
Sánchez-Polán M et al. “Physical activity and self-perception of mental and physical quality of life during pregnancy: A systematic review and meta-analysis.” J Clin Med 2023.
Zhang D et al. “Influence of physical activity during pregnancy on birth weight: Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.” J Clin Med 2023.
Barakat R et al. “The influence of physical activity during pregnancy on miscarriage – systematic review and meta-analysis.” J Clin Med 2023.
Zhang D et al. “Influence of physical activity during pregnancy on the type and duration of delivery and epidural use: systematic review and meta-analysis.” J Clin Med 2023.
Barakat R et al. “Is exercise during pregnancy a risk for gestational age and preterm birth?” Systematic review and meta-analysis”. J Clin Med 2023.