Physical activity during pregnancy and its influence on delivery time: a randomized clinical trial

PeerJ. 2019 Feb 7;7:e6370. doi: 10.7717/peerj.6370. eCollection 2019.


Introduction: During pregnancy, women often change their lifestyle for fear of harmful effects on the child or themselves. In this respect, many women reduce the amount of physical exercise they take, despite its beneficial effects.

Objective: To determine the duration of labor in pregnant women who completed a program of moderate physical exercise in water and subsequently presented eutocic birth.

Methods: A randomized trial was performed with 140 healthy pregnant women, divided into an exercise group (EG) (n = 70) and a control group (CG) (n = 70). The women who composed the study population were recruited at 12 weeks of gestation. The intervention program, termed SWEP (Study of Water Exercise during Pregnancy) began in week 20 of gestation and ended in week 37. Perinatal outcomes were determined by examining the corresponding partographs, recorded by the Maternity Service at the Granada University Hospital Complex.

Results: The intervention phase of the study took place from June through October 2016, with the 120 women finally included in EG and CG (60 in each group). At term, 63% of the women in EG and 56% of those in CG had a eutocic birth. The average total duration of labor was 389.33 ± 216.18 min for the women in EG and 561.30 ± 199.94 min for those in CG, a difference of approximately three hours (p < 0.001).

Conclusions: The women who exercised in water during their pregnancy presented a shorter duration of labor than those who did not. The difference was especially marked with respect to the duration of the first and second stages of labor.

Keywords: Birth; Exercise; Labor; Pregnancy; Pregnancy outcome.

Grant support

No public funds were received for this study. The University of Granada collaborated by facilitating the use of aquatic resources at the School of Sports Science. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.