I'm a strong advocate of exercise during pregnancy. I ran through most of my pregnancies, which helped keep my weight gain in the normal range, made labor and delivery much easier, and also helped me bounce back into shape more quickly after birth. I used to get some funny looks from neighbors as I ran, and eventually waddled down the street, but I didn't mind. Although the benefit to mothers is well-established, new research is showing that exercise can also benefit baby.
A new study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, divided 84 pregnant women into two groups. One group began a home-based stationary cycling program (40 minutes, 5 times a week) at 20 weeks pregnant and continued until birth. The other group continued with their current level of activity.
Comparing the two groups, exercise did not have an effect on the mother's weight, but it did have an effect on the baby's weight. Mothers who didn't exercise had babies who were an average of 5 ounces heavier than those mothers who did exercise. This is important because previous research has found that babies who are larger at birth (higher than 8 pounds, 12 ounces) have a greater risk of childhood obesity.
This study demonstrates that your pregnancy can still benefit from regular moderate exercise, even if you don't start until halfway through. (Assuming you have doctor's approval.) It would be interesting study women who start exercising earlier in their pregnancy (before 20 weeks) compared to those who do not, and how that affects a baby's weight.
What do you think? If you've had children, did you exercise during pregnancy? What benefits did you notice for you and/or your baby?