Science Proves It: Exercising During Pregnancy Helps Speed Up Labor

There are countless reasons why exercising during pregnancy is beneficial, from helping to keep both you and your baby healthy, helping your prepare for birth, boosting your mental health, and keeping those endorphins up. 

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Exercising during pregnancy is an important part of many women's routines, not only because it's good for them and good for their babies, but because it just plain feels good too. There's nothing like moving your body in a beneficial way at a time in your life when literally moving your body feels like victory. Exercising during pregnancy doesn't have to consist of big, splashy acts like throwing a barbell over your head, squatting like it's hot, or running a marathon, either — exercise can be as simple as going for a walk, doing yoga, or lifting light weights. It's about moving your body and feeling good. 

And believe it or not, there has been some kind of debate over the years about the true benefits of exercise during pregnancy. Just a quick look at the comments of the Internet on any article about a woman working out hard during her pregnancy will reveal that some people truly still think that working out is bad for women and their babies during pregnancy. And that's not only wrong, but it could be potentially hurting lots of women and their children, who avoid working out safely because they think it's “bad” for them. 

No matter what the commenters of the Internet may say, the truth is simple: exercise can be done safely during pregnancy. And now, there is even more compelling evidence that proves exactly why all pregnant women should continue to exercise as they are able to (and always, of course, under a doctor's supervision!) — because exercising during pregnancy may actually help speed up labor. 

exercise during pregnancy
Image via Unsplash

In the new study, 508 women were followed during their pregnancies, with some of them moving through an exercise program and the rest of them not following any type of activity plan. The study revealed that the women who exercised three times a week through a “moderate aerobic” activity had significantly shorter labors in both the first and second stages of labor than the women who did not work out. Just how big was the difference?

Women who exercised had a first stage of labor that lasted an average of 409 minutes, while women who did not exercise had a first stage of labor that lasted an average of 462 min. They also had a shorter second stage of labor, too. Overall, women in the exercise group had an almost full hour less of labor as compared to the women who did not exercise when you combined both the first and second stages of labor (442 vs. 499 min). Crazy, right? 

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What's interesting about this new study on how exercise can speed up labor is that it actually followed women through most of their pregnancies, starting when they were either 9 or 11 weeks pregnant. That shows that exercising for the full duration of the pregnancy can make a real difference. And although they didn't strongly say that exercise 100% helped with these factors, the women in the exercise group were also less likely to have an epidural and the women who didn't exercise had more incidents of having a baby with macrosomia, which is when a baby is large for its gestational age and can be linked to problems such as temperature and blood sugar regulation at birth. 

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Overall, this study is another important one in a long line of scientific information that should show everyone (Internet trolls included) that exercise is good for expecting moms and their babies. And you don't need to do anything intense during your pregnancy either to see the benefits — according to this study, a simple 30-minute aerobic session three times a week will make a big difference in helping to reduce your labor and possibly minimize other complications while giving birth. 

What do you think?

Science Proves It: Exercising During Pregnancy Helps Speed Up Labor

Chaunie Brusie is a writer, mom of four, and founder of The Stay Strong Mom, a community + gift box service for moms after loss. ... More

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