A new University of Colorado School of Public Health study found that pregnant women who exercise regularly in their third trimester have babies who are born with less fat. Researchers say that this could be a good thing, since babies who have extra fat at birth could continue to be heavier when they are older kids and beyond.
Experts already state that healthy pregnant women should be exercising moderately for their well-being as well as their baby's. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that healthy moms-to-be engage in moderate activity, such as brisk walking, for 30 minutes most days of the week. Exercise can reduce the amount of blood sugar that gets to the fetus, which in turn reduces the chance of having a larger-than-normal baby, according to Dr. Joseph Fernandez, an ob-gyn with Scott & White Healthcare in Round Rock, Texas. This study adds to the evidence that exercise is beneficial for both Mom and Baby, he said.
The researchers did find that the most-active mothers had an increased risk of having a "small-for-gestational-age" newborn -- which means smaller than the norm for babies born during a given week of pregnancy.
But Dabelea attributed that to the lower level of body fat, rather than impaired growth and development in the womb.
Another ob/gyn who reviewed the study said the higher likelihood of small-for-gestational-age newborns is "a little concerning." But there's no way of knowing whether there could be negative effects in the long run.
It is well-established that leading a healthy lifestyle is crucial before and during pregnancy. "It's important to start optimizing your health before you become pregnant," Dr. Jill Rabin, co-chief of ambulatory care and women's health programs at North Shore-LIJ Health System, said. "Eat a healthy diet, get regular exercise, take prenatal vitamins, quit smoking."
How much weight should you gain during pregnancy? Find out with our weight gain calculator.
Image via Shutterstock.