Regular exercise during pregnancy can make labour shorter

Women who exercise during pregnancy, are more likely to have shorter labour.

That is one hell of an incentive to get up and exercise during your pregnancy.

The range of emotions during pregnancy can go from excited, to nervous, to downright uncomfortable. But arguably the scariest aspect of any uncomplicated pregnancy, is the pain you will experience during labour.

No one wants to endure labour for too long, and while there are the few lucky women experiencing the miracle of a mere hour or two of labour, the idea of cutting the pain short is a very attractive notion.

GIF Keeping Up With The Kardashians
Yay. So excited for the joys of giving birth.

According to the first clinical trial to test the effectiveness of prenatal physical activity, women who undertook regular weekly exercise spent an average of 50 minutes less time in labour.

The researchers from the Technical University of Madrid, in Spain, split 508 women between 9 and 11 weeks pregnant, into 2 groups. One group would receive counselling throughout pregnancy, while the other group were to take part in three weekly, hour-long exercise classes.

These classes were a mixture of aerobic based activities, to muscle strengthening classes, balance exercises, stretching, relaxation and pelvic-floor strengthening.

Those women in the counselling group were advised on the health benefits of exercise, but did not attend the same classes.

Of the original 508 women in the study, 325 women gave birth (and excuse me for the indelicate phrasing) vaginally.

The labour lasted an average of 8 hours in the women who received counselling. In the women who exercised, the labour duration average dropped to 7 and a half hours.

So why does exercise shorten labour?

The head of the study, Ruben Barakat, told the New Scientist that labour is generally easier for women who improve their muscle strength and gain less weight during pregnancy.

Like any activity that involves great physical exertion (such as pushing out a baby), if you are fitter and stronger it is going to be easier. And labour is an extremely physically taxing event to go through.

It looks like a mixture of exercises from walking to pelvic floor exercises can get that baby out quicker. Obviously, it would be wise to consult your doctor what exercises would be safe for you during your pregnancy.

The old “put your feet up” is a thing of the past (sorry) but a bit of exercise can go a long way.

Milly Haddrick


Milly is passionate about the issues and concerns of women navigating their way through the world of sex, dating and relationships, with a side passion for brie, dark chocolate and red wine.

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