Pregnancy & Exercise

Pregnancy & Exercise is an International Research Network, subsidized by the “Consejo Superior de Deportes” (Spain), about the effects of different types of physical activity during pregnancy on maternal, fetal and newborn health.

Pregnancy, unique and complex process

Pregnancy and childbirth can be decisive for the future life of mother and child  as pregnancy affects every system of the body in order to sustain fetal life. These changes may contribute to many pathologies and complications. In addition, the pregnancy period may represent many social and environmental issues that may affect, enhance or diminish these complications.

In this sense,  scientific evidence confirms the negative consequences of current unhealthy lifestyles in relation to pregnancy outcomes, that include mother, fetus, even the new born and infant. Engaging in an unhealthy lifestyle during pregnancy enhances the risk of chronic disease during and after pregnancy.

Maternal and fetal complications

Maternal complications resulting from an unhealthy lifestyle may lead to may consequences, including  excessive gestational weight gain. Excessive weight gain not only results in complications during pregnancy and childbirth, but also  difficulties in the postpartum period, such as metabolic, cardiovascular and emotional alterations. Recent reports warn of prenatal depression rates between 9-15%, and this shows the importance of psychic and emotional factors during pregnancy in addition to associated  pre and post-natal physiological pathologies.

Unhealthy lifestyle can lead to  prolonged labor, excessively instrumentalized or cesarean delivery and the related health consequenses of mother and newborn. The scientific literature strongly  suggests the need for non-prolonged and less instrumentalized births as  prevention of consequences for maternal and newborn well-being.

Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) is on the rise  among the pregnant population, as the data reported by some studies are worrisome and represent a clear example of an unbalanced pregnancy whose consequences affect both mother and fetus.  GDM  is a pathology with numerous associated effects that can seriously complicate  pregnancy,  putting adequate growth and fetal development at risk. Moreover, the effects generated by an adverse intrauterine environment (in this case metabolic) go beyond gestation, and affect the future life of both mother and child (putting both at risk for diabetes development).

Childhood obesity

It is interesting to observe that, according to research carried out in recent years, one of the most significant effects caused by excessive gestational weight gain and uncontrolled metablic environment is the development of  childhood obesity. As an epidemic of increasing prevalence with a  difficult solution, both worldwide and in Spain, it is imperative that strategies be developed to attempt to curb this outbreak. It is estimated that 43 million children, 22 million of them under the age of 5, are overweight or obese, and that 1 in 3 adolescents have an excessive body weight. If this trend continues, the prevalence may reach 9% or 60 million people world wide by 2020.

Many studies confirm that pregnancy may be a determining factor in this epidemic. Starting pregnancy with a high Body Mass Index and also gaining excessive weight during pregnancy are associated with various maternal-fetal complications. The situation of obesity or overweight during pregnancy is related to a greater predisposition to developing preeclampsia, abortion, cesarean section or instrumental delivery, neonatal death, fetal macrosomia and metabolic disorders to the fetus. In addition, important postnatal complications may ocurr, such as excessive retention of maternal weight and metabolic disorders in  later life of the mother and child.

There are important recommendations promoted by the scientific community about establishing  elements that ensure a healthy  pregnancy. However a high percentage of women continue to gain excessive weight during pregnancy in spite of health recommendations. Given this complex problem, it is necessary (almost urgent) to find non-invasive prevention mechanisms to benefit the wellbeing of the mother and her child, taking into account that  pregnancy predisposes the woman to a significant change in lifestyle.

Exercise, an important preventive factor

As substantiated by scientific evidence, physical exercise during pregnancy does not cause adverse effects on mother and fetus. Indeed, physical exercise during pregnancy may prevent chronic disease risk in mother and fetus.

However, in the case of not physically active´s women who are as well as those who are more active and even in high-performance athletes, more scientific studies are needed to confirm these prevention and health improvement capabilities, which will benefit maternal well-being. , fetal and newborn.

The aim of the International Pregnancy & Exercise Research Network is to know and improve the conditions of the pregnant population in different geographical areas of the planet through different types of physical activity.

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ACTIVE PREGNANCY GUIDE

It´s aimed at pregnant women and in the postpartum phase, with the objective of promoting physical activity, physical exercise, and behaviors framed in a healthy lifestyle in this special phase of life, having been elaborated by a multidisciplinary team of professionals in the areas of physical exercise, nutrition, medicine, nursing, and physiotherapy.

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