Exercise during pregnancy and risk of late preterm birth, cesarean delivery, and hospitalizations

Womens Health Issues. 2014 Jan-Feb;24(1):e99-e104. doi: 10.1016/j.whi.2013.11.003.


Background: Federal physical activity guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week during pregnancy. We studied whether regular exercise during pregnancy is associated with preterm birth, cesarean delivery, and hospitalization during pregnancy.

Methods: Self-reported weekly exercise was ascertained in 3,006 women during the third trimester of pregnancy. Using multivariable logistic regression, we report the relationship between regular exercise (≥150 min/wk) and late preterm birth, cesarean delivery, and hospitalization during pregnancy, controlling for age, race, marital status, education, poverty status, prepregnancy body mass index weight category, gestational weight gain, and prepregnancy diabetes or hypertension.

Results: Nearly one third of women reported meeting current federal physical activity recommendations during pregnancy. Five percent had late preterm birth, 29% had cesarean deliveries, and 20% reported hospitalization during pregnancy. In multivariable analysis, regular exercise during pregnancy was not associated with late preterm birth or hospitalization during pregnancy. Physical activity of 150 or more minutes per week was associated with reduced odds of cesarean delivery compared with less than 60 minutes per week, but the finding was not significant (adjusted odds ratio, 0.86; 95% confidence interval, 0.69-1.07).

Conclusion: In the First Baby Study, physical activity was not associated with late preterm birth or hospitalizations, and may be associated with decreased odds of cesarean delivery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cesarean Section / statistics & numerical data*
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Logistic Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Premature Birth*
  • Prenatal Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Weight Gain
  • Young Adult