Objective: The purpose of this study was to assess the effect of strenuous symptom-limited exercise on umbilical and uterine blood flow.
Study design: Twenty-two primiparous women between 30 and 34 weeks of gestation were recruited. At rest, umbilical and uterine artery waveforms were assessed by measuring the pulsatility index. This was followed by a symptom-limited incremental exercise test. Fetal umbilical and maternal uterine artery circulations were assessed after exercise.
Results: Strenuous maternal exercise was demonstrated by the significant change in physiologic parameters, which was associated with an immediate increase in fetal heart rate, a significant increase in the right uterine artery pulsatility index, and a reduction in the umbilical artery pulsatility index.
Conclusion: The modest change in the uterine artery pulsatility index without an adverse change in the umbilical artery pulsatility index indicates that a single bout of maximum symptom-limited exercise does not have immediate adverse fetal or maternal cardiovascular effects.