Background: Antenatal preparation programmes are recommended worldwide to promote a healthy pregnancy and greater autonomy during labor and delivery, prevent physical discomfort and high levels of anxiety. The objective of this study was to evaluate effectiveness and safety of a birth preparation programme to minimize lumbopelvic pain, urinary incontinence, anxiety, and increase physical activity during pregnancy as well as to compare its effects on perinatal outcomes comparing two groups of nulliparous women.
Methods: A randomized controlled trial was conducted with 197 low risk nulliparous women aged 16 to 40 years, with gestational age ≥ 18 weeks. Participants were randomly allocated to participate in a birth preparation programme (BPP; n=97) or a control group (CG; n=100). The intervention was performed on the days of prenatal visits, and consisted of physical exercises, educational activities and instructions on exercises to be performed at home. The control group followed a routine of prenatal care. Primary outcomes were urinary incontinence, lumbopelvic pain, physical activity, and anxiety. Secondary outcomes were perinatal variables.
Results: The risk of urinary incontinence in BPP participants was significantly lower at 30 weeks of pregnancy (BPP 42.7%, CG 62.2%; relative risk [RR] 0.69; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.51-0.93) and at 36 weeks of pregnancy (BPP 41.2%, CG 68.4%; RR 0.60; 95%CI 0.45-0.81). Participation in the BPP encouraged women to exercise during pregnancy (p=0.009). No difference was found between the groups regarding to anxiety level, lumbopelvic pain, type or duration of delivery and weight or vitality of the newborn infant.
Conclusions: The BPP was effective in controlling urinary incontinence and to encourage the women to exercise during pregnancy with no adverse effects to pregnant women or the fetuses.
Trial registration: Clinicaltrials.gov, (NCT01155804).