Better Birth Weights

Pregnancy used to be thought of as a precarious and fragile condition. As a result, pregnant women would be confined to their homes without the benefit of sunshine or exercise to wait out the long days until their infants would arrive. But today we know that pregnancy is a healthy state of being.

Moderate Exercise

Our bodies have been designed to become pregnant and bear children. We can work up until just before the delivery. We can also exercise, as long as we do it in moderation. Now experts tell us that we can not only exercise, but we should do so as it will benefit both ourselves and our infants.

Like everything else in America, babies have been "super-sized." People are eating too much and there is an epidemic of obesity. Larger babies have become all too common. Their larger size translates to more difficult deliveries or even Cesarean sections. A new study tells us that moderate exercise during pregnancy can prevent a baby from growing too large.

This small research project was performed as a collaborative effort between the University of Auckland and Northern Arizona University and had as its goal the evaluation of moderate exercise in pregnancy. The study included 84 pregnant women, half of whom were given the assignment to use an exercise bicycle for 40 minutes, five times a week until reaching their ninth month of pregnancy.

Couch Potatoes

While the babies of the women who followed this routine were all of the same approximate height, their weight was about 5 ounces less than those babies whose moms were on the "couch potato team." In case you're wondering, these lowered birth weights were well within the established parameters for normal birth-weights in newborns.

These ratios of height to weight in the newborns of these women suggest that exercise doesn't stunt infant growth but rather reduces the amount of body fat they have at birth. This gives such infants a step up on other babies in combating future obesity. Lead author of this study, Dr. Paul Hofman from the University of Auckland comments, "Given that large birth size is associated with increased risk of obesity, a modest reduction in birth weight may have long-term health benefits for offspring by lowering this risk later in life."

Hofman believes that the results of this study give confirmation that exercising during pregnancy is beneficial for both mother and baby while it helps to, "support the recommendations of at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily and probably more," Dr. Hofman said. The study has been published in a recent issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.