Does Exercising When Pregnant Hurt The Baby?

Does exercising when pregnant hurt the baby? No. Read on to find out the many benefits of exercising while pregnant!
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Does Exercising When Pregnant Hurt The Baby?


This has been a hot topic of late, and the answer to the question of “Does Exercises When Pregnant Hurt the Baby?” is an emphatic NO.

Not only does it not hurt the baby, it actually improves blood flow to the placenta and is AMAZE-BALLS for the person growing the baby in their belly. I’ll give summaries of a few personal fav studies in both layman’s text, and also include the reference, for Geek’s like me!

Exercise Doesn’t Harm the Baby

First of all, let’s start with the studies that show that exercise during pregnancy does not lead to lower birth weights or other negative effects.

  1. This cool Danish study found no negative effects on baby in mother’s who exercised regularly during pregnancy.
  2. Another neat study found no negative effects on baby in mom’s who exercised, even if the caloric intake wasn’t as high as was ideal. That doesn’t mean that there wouldn’t be negative effects for mama in that case, so let’s be sure to get enough fuel in your tank, people.

Benefits for the Baby

Numerous studies have shown that not only is exercise not harmful to the baby, but that it is actually beneficial!

  1. The LeMoyne Study was a randomized controlled trial that showed that babies whose mother’s exercised prenatally had increased brain activity from days 8-12 when compared to babies whose mothers did not exercise while pregnant!
  2. The Dominiques Study showed improved IQ scores at ages 1, 2 and 4 in babies whose mothers exercised while pregnant!

Benefits for the Person Growing the Baby

  1. The same Danish Study that showed no negative effects for baby also showed reduced birth length in people who exercised while pregnant!
  2. The Hinman Study was a Review that showed MANY benefits, including reduced risk of Cesarean delivery, and shortened second stage of labor (the part when the baby is coming down and you push it out)

We will have to talk another time about what exercises are appropriate, though. And how something like, say, running, at a certain point in pregnancy won’t hurt baby….but might be a big load on mama’s feet and spine and pelvic floor…but that’s for another time.

Geek Squad: Study Links

The Danish Study: Juhl M, Olsen J, Andersen PK, Nohr EA, Andersen AM. Physical exercise during pregnancy and fetal growth measures: a study within the Danish National Birth Cohort. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2010;202(1):e61–e68.

The Study that showed no deficits in birth weight in mothers who exercised, even if their caloric intake was lower than ideal. Giroux I, Inglis SD, Lander S, Gerrie S, Mottola MF. Dietary intake, weight gain, and birth outcomes of physically active pregnant women: a pilot study. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2006;31(5):483–489.

The LeMoyne Study: LeMoyne EL, Curnier D, St-Jacques S, Ellemberg D. The effects of exercise during pregnancy on the newborn’s brain: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Trials. 2012;13:68.

The Dominiques Study. Domingues MR, Matijasevich A, Barros AJ, Santos IS, Horta BL, Hallal PC. Physical activity during pregnancy and offspring neurodevelopment and IQ in the first 4 years of life. PLoS One. 2014;9(10):e110050.

The Hinman Study. Hinman SK, Smith KB, Quillen DM, Smith MS. Exercise in Pregnancy: A Clinical Review. Sports Health. 2015 Nov-Dec;7(6):527-31. doi: 10.1177/1941738115599358. Epub 2015 Aug 4. PMID: 26502446; PMCID: PMC4622376.

Barakat R, Pelaez M, Lopez C, Montejo R, Coteron J. Exercise during pregnancy reduces the rate of cesarean and instrumental deliveries: results of a randomized controlled trial. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2012;25:2372-2376. 

Thanks for Reading!

I hope this helps answer the question of “Does Exercising While Pregnant Hurt the Baby”? And I hope you can now confidently say NO!!

And, as always, heck out my Pelvic Floored Signature Lecture Series for in-depth training of how your current pelvic floor muscle status could be contributing to your pain, incontinence, constipation, pelvic organ pressure, or sexual dysfunction complaints. The online program, streamable from the privacy of your own home, includes 12 mini lectures, and 12 progressive exercise programs that I developed based upon current research, as well as my 16 years of experience in pelvic health.

A full pelvic floor physical therapy program, for less than the price of one standard in person PT evaluation!

What other motivation do you need? Did I mention that for every 4 courses I sell, I will donate one to a person in need, through my People Before Profits Program. I am so proud of this. By buying my program you are not only helping yourself (or your loved one), but also someone in need.

If buying my program isn’t in the cards right now, no worries! Please join my mailing list to be kept up to date on other free tips for your best pelvic health! My AMAZING blog posts are filled with practical tips for improving your pelvic (and overall) health prenatally, postpartum and beyond! Mailing list subscribers also get exclusive discounts to Pelvic Floored products, and access to subscriber only events!  Don’t miss out!  Sign up Today

Thanks for reading!

xoxo, Dr. Kelly

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