London, July 18 (IANS): Scientists have found the women who exercise during pregnancy are less likely to require a caesarean birth. And the ones undertaking brisk walking in particular, thrice a week, could reduce their risk of having a heavy infant by half.
The study also shows that exercise lowers the chances of developing a type of diabetes that only affects pregnant women, Daily Mail reported.
In Britain, the C-sections now constitute about 25 per cent of births in England and Wales, or over 190,000 a year, which is today more than double the proportion in 1980.
During a study of 510 sedentary expectant women, one group were given 55-minute sessions of aerobic, muscle strength and flexibility exercises three days a week during the last six months of pregnancy, while the others received standard care.
According to the findings published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, those who underwent a training programme reduced their chances of delivering birth to a baby weighing more than 4kg by 58 per cent, and the number of expected caesarean deliveries fell by 34 per cent.
Earlier studies have shown babies delivered by caesarean might be missing out on exposure to protective bacteria that could help their immune system to mature and prevent a host of disorders, such as infections and asthma. They are also more prone to childhood obesity and developing diabetes.