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Water Aerobics Reduces Pain in Childbirth

Pregnant Women Who Do Water Aerobics Are More Likely to Pass Up Pain Drugs During Delivery
By Caroline Wilbert
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Nov. 20, 2008 -- Moms-to-be: It may be time to go shopping for a maternity swimsuit.

A new study reports that women who do water aerobics during pregnancy may have less need of pain medications for their deliveries. The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Campinas in Brazil and published in Reproductive Health, included 71 expectant mothers. Thirty-four of the women took water aerobics classes three times a week during pregnancy, while the control group of 37 women did not.

The water aerobics group was significantly less likely to ask for pain medication during delivery. Twenty-seven percent of the aerobics group asked for pain medication, compared to 65% of the control group.

There were no significant differences in length of labor or type of delivery between the two groups. Newborn results for average birth weight and age at delivery were similar, as were Apgar scores, which evaluate the physical condition of a newborn immediately after birth.

All participants received fitness tests at several intervals during pregnancy. Water aerobics did not have any negative impact on the cardiovascular health of the women who took the classes.

"We've shown that the regular practice of moderate water aerobics during pregnancy is not detrimental to the health of the mother or the child," says co-author Rosa Pereira in a news release. "In fact, the reduction in analgesia requests suggests that it can get women into better psycho-physical condition."

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