By Birgitta Lauren
Prior to "Modern Medicine" no one had a problem with pregnant mothers being active. Families' socio economical status and lifestyle would have prevented many moms-to-be from being sedentary. "Prevalence of the Victorian view, fear of malpractice, and unscientific assumptions encouraged doctors for many years to advise women to put their feet up for nine months." says Dr. Raul Artal, professor of the Department of Ob/Gyn at SUNI Health Science Center at Syracuse, NY. "But with the exercise boom of the 80's, questions started coming up about working out while pregnant" he says. Frustrations were felt both by the medical community, athletes, coaches and active women by the "old" restrictive guidelines of '84. Inpatient with the very restrictive low levels of exercise, that women were "allowed" to do, scientists started to examine pregnant women at much higher than recommended levels of exercise intensity. The new studies are coming out in favor of active moms.

Modern medical research is disproving all of the old misconceptions about what pregnant women can and can't do. These myths of the entire concept of "prenatal exercise" that grew from fear or ignorance are changing as we become more knowledgeable on how exercise can be modified during pregnancy. This is what exercise was thought to cause, compared with new findings:
Miscarriage exercise decreases the rate of miscarriage
Hormonal imbalance exercise normalizes hormones and produces endorphins that reduces stress.
Increased risk of injury exercise strengthens joints and prevents injury
Directs blood flow away together pregnancy and exercise feto-protectivly from fetus to muscles increases blood volume to insure sufficient blood supply for all activities.
Overheating of fetus - pregnancy and exercise feto-protectivly improves a pregnant moms cooling system. (However, never exercise when hot and humid)
Uterine bleeding - only excessive exercise may increase spotting in early pregnancy.
Placental displacement - no relation to exercise found, but modify program if it happens.
Entangled umbilical cord - exercise reduces the incidence of entanglement.
Breech position - only inverted exercises after 32 weeks may increase risk of breech position.
Increased c-sections and exercise reduces C-sections by more than half andmedical intervention - reduces all other interventions.

Meconium stained amniotic fluid - exercise reduces this risk by half.
Premature labor - no exercise relation found.
Prolonged labor - exercise reduces labor time by about 30%.Fetal distress - exercise reduces fetal distress.

Low birth weight - babies are born 10% leaner, with normal height and cranial circumference.
Low Apgar scores - exercise increases Apgar scores at 1 min.
Difficulties for baby after birth - babies adapt faster to the outside and handle labor better.
Difficult maternal recovery - (?) of course fit mom's recover quicker and easier, and here are a few more reasons to exercise:


  • Improves fertility
  • Reduces effects of biomechanical changes to your body such as upper and lower back strain, sciatica, and knee pain by maintaining strength and proper spinal alignment for better posture.
  • Eliminates or reduces discomforts of water retention, tension, stress, depression, and excessive weight gain.
  • Prevents and treats pregnancy induced diabetes.
  • Improves calcium absorption to prevent hypertension, preeclampsia and future osteoporosis.
  • Minimizes stretch-marks, varicose veins, abdominal separation and hyperventilation.
  • Improves self-esteem and well-being.
  • Increases energy, stamina, fitness levels and muscle control for an easier pregnancy and a faster and less painful delivery.


  • Minimizes postpartum blues.
  • Minimizes future incontinence and organ prolapse.
  • Allows faster recovery.
  • Reduces back strain from carrying and nursing a newborn.
  • Increases energy and strength.


Babies come out healthier and fitter by handling labor better and adapting faster to the
outside. Babies seem calmer, are leaner (with less chance of future weight problems)
and with improved neurological and mental development - they are more intelligent.

That should be enough motivation to get you going. For more detailed information on the feto protective benefits of exercise in pregnancy, how to modify any sport for your pregnancy, "high risk" pregnancy exercise, nutrition and postpartum, click on EXPECTING FITNESS, to purchase the book.