It’s common knowledge that people in the United States should exercise more. Overall, we are a sedentary society, and too few of use have the motivation and dedication to exercise regularly. However, it’s also common knowledge that exercise is an important part of staying healthy, and being pregnant is no exception to that rule. Pregnant women should exercise through their pregnancy. Exercising during your pregnancy will help you keep your weight down, which will help you experience less complications during your labor and it will make your baby healthier in every way. Additionally, a recent study shows that women who continue to exercise in the last trimester of their pregnancy will be in labor for a shorter duration.

Birth is a beautiful thing, but you’ll want it to be over as quickly as possible when you’re dripping beads of sweat and screaming obscenities at your doctor as you push and push. Shorter labor is also safer, as there is less time for complications to arise and for things to go wrong. If you make sure you get aerobic exercise in your third trimester, you have a better chance of dilating quickly, pushing effectively, and having your baby as swiftly as humanly possible. The duration of labor varies between every woman, but the average duration for women who are having their first child is approximately eight hours from the first major contraction to the final push. Women who have had a baby before tend to have short childbirth experiences. If you are physically fit and stay that way through your final trimester, you probably won’t go into labor for much more than eight hours.

Physical fitness during your pregnancy is essential to your health and that of your baby, both in the present and for the rest of his or her life. It might feel difficult to get proper exercise with your baby bump, but getting your heart pumping and your lungs working is the best thing you can do for your baby. If you’re not sure which exercises are safe, speak with your doctor about pregnancy-specific exercise classes in your area. Brisk walks are a good way to get moving, and swimming will even help take some of the pressure off of your joints and provide you with pain relief. Whatever exercise you choose, make sure you’re careful not to fall or cause any impact on your pregnant belly.

Source: Kristen Kardel et al: Association Between Aerobic Fitness in Late Pregnancy and Duration of Labor in Nulliparous Women. Acta Obstetrics and Gynecology Scandinavia Volume 88 Issue 8 pp. 948-952 August 2009