Objective: To analyze factors associated with the practice of physical activity during pregnancy and its relationship to maternal and child health indicators.
Methods: Cross-sectional study carried out with all births that occurred at maternity hospitals in the municipality of Rio Grande (Southern Brazil) during the year of 2007 (N = 2,557). Information was collected through interviews, by means of a pre-coded questionnaire administered to the mothers. The analyzed maternal and child health outcomes were: hospitalization during pregnancy, cesarean delivery, preterm birth (gestational age < 37 weeks), low birth weight (< 2500g), and fetal death.
Results: A total of 32.8% of mothers (95%CI 31.0;34.6) reported having practiced physical activity during pregnancy. The factors associated with practice of physical activity during pregnancy, after adjusting for potential confounders, were: maternal age (inverse association), level of schooling (direct association), mother's first pregnancy, having received prenatal care, and having been instructed in physical activity during prenatal care. Women who practiced physical activity during pregnancy were less likely to deliver surgically and to have a stillbirth. There was no association between physical activity and preterm birth, hospitalization, and low birth weight.
Conclusions: Only one third of mothers reported having practiced physical activity during pregnancy. This behavior was more frequent among younger women with higher level of schooling who were advised during prenatal care. Women who practiced physical activity during pregnancy had fewer cesarean sections and lower occurrence of stillbirths.