It seems that eating healthy and exercising lightly during pregnancy might have a far more reaching impact than previously thought.
Scientists have done an analysis of 36 studies who researched habits of more than 12,500 women and it suggests that these two things can actually also reduce the chances of women having to have a c-section birth and even developing gestational diabetes.
The study author Shakila Thangaratinam, a professor of maternal and perinatal health at Queen Mary University of London says that the risk of c-section has been reduced by approximately 10% and 24% for the development of pregnancy diabetes.
The healthy eating and exercising also proved to be beneficial at reducing the possibility of excessive weight gain during the pregnancy, which is not surprising.
Thangaratinam commented: “Based on all the evidence to date, what we found was a healthy diet and moderate physical activity in pregnancy does reduce the risk of increased [excessive] weight gain, and this benefit is actually accessible to every pregnant woman, regardless of [pre-pregnancy] body weight.”
Despite the findings, it is still not yet clear what exactly does it mean to have a healthy diet or even what appropriate, moderate exercise should look like during the pregnancy. This is due to the differences between the analyzed studies as each has looked at the factors a bit differently.
Some general conclusions are that more fiber, olive oil, and fish should be incorporated and sugary drinks need to be cut out of the diet. As for the exercise, Thangaratinam suggests 150 minutes of a combination of aerobic exercises along with muscle strengthening.
Margie Davenport, an assistant professor of physical education and recreation at the University of Alberta in Canada, with extensive experience in this area said: “Currently, only 15 percent of women are active during pregnancy due, at least in part, to a fear that continuing to exercise may be harmful.”
Thankfully, this does not seem to be the case and women should be active more during pregnancy to reap the benefits for themselves and the baby.