Randomized Clinical Trial of an Aquatic Physical Exercise Program During Pregnancy

J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 2019 May;48(3):321-331. doi: 10.1016/j.jogn.2019.02.003. Epub 2019 Apr 4.


Objective: To determine the effect of an aquatic physical exercise program performed during pregnancy on rate of intact perineum after childbirth.

Design: Randomized clinical trial.

Setting: Health centers in the metropolitan health district of Granada, Spain.

Participants: A total of 129 pregnant women (control group [CG] = 64; aquatic exercise group [EG] = 65).

Methods: The intervention was an aquatic physical exercise program specifically designed for pregnant women (Study of Water Exercise During Pregnancy [SWEP] method). Participants were randomly assigned to the CG or EG by simple random sampling. Participants in the EG performed three sessions per week of physical exercises, which were led by the principal investigator. All participants received routine prenatal care. We evaluated status of the perineum after birth, including laceration and episiotomy rates. We also evaluated participants' weight, body mass index (BMI) in the first and third trimesters, parity, the administration of anesthesia, and birth weight of the neonate as potential confounding variables.

Results: The women in the EG had a greater rate of intact perineum than those in the CG (odds ratio [OR] = 13.54, 95% confidence interval [CI] [2.75, 66.56]). After adjusting for infant birth weight, the effect of the intervention on intact perineum was an OR of 8.57 (95% CI [1.85, 39.68]. Maternal weight gain did not influence the odds of intact perineum (OR = 1.072, 95% CI [0.896, 1.283]). Women who previously gave birth and followed the SWEP method had an OR of 10.197 (95% CI [2.190, 47.476] for an intact perineum. The administration of anesthesia and previous pregnancy also were associated with intact perineum (OR = 6.68, 95% CI [1.21, 36.84] and OR = 5.42, 95% CI [1.64, 17.89] respectively.

Conclusion: The women who followed the SWEP method were significantly more likely to have intact perinea after childbirth.

Keywords: childbirth; episiotomy; exercise; perineum; pregnancy; tear.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Delivery, Obstetric / methods
  • Episiotomy / nursing
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrotherapy / methods*
  • Perineum
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care / methods*
  • Spain
  • Swimming / physiology