Exercise in Pregnancy Decreases Cesarean Risk, Weight Gain

(HealthDay News) — Physical activity in pregnancy is associated with a reduction in the risk for cesarean delivery, according to a review published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Iris Domenjoz, MBBS, from the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, and colleagues conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to examine the impact of exercise programs during pregnancy on the course of labor and delivery. Data were collected from 16 randomized controlled trials, involving 3,359 women.

The risk for cesarean delivery was significantly lower for women in exercise groups (relative risk [RR]=0.85; 95% CI, 0.73-0.99). In exercise groups there was no significant reduction in birth weight.

Among the groups, the risk for instrumental delivery was similar (RR=1.00; 95% CI, 0.82-1.22). Due to insufficient data, conclusions could not be drawn on Apgar score, episiotomy, epidural anesthesia, perineal tear, length of labor and induction of labor.

Women in the exercise groups gained significantly less weight than those in control groups, based on data from 11 studies involving 1,668 women (mean difference, –1.13 kg).

“This is an important finding to convince women to be active during their pregnancy and should lead the physician to recommend physical exercise to pregnant women, when this is not contraindicated,” the researchers wrote.


  1. Domenjoz I et al. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2014;doi:10.1016/j.ajog.2014.03.030.