Water Aerobics Helps Ease Labor Pain

12.03.08 Pool-based workouts curb requests for epidural, study says


If you're looking for a way to exercise and prepare for delivery day, a new Brazilian study suggests water aerobics might help things go swimmingly for you when it comes to dealing with labor pain, The New York Times reports.

The study of 71 moms-to-be published in the journal Reproductive Health indicates that 27 percent of the 34 women who did water aerobics three times a week during pregnancy requested pain relief when giving birth, compared to 65 percent of the remainder who didn't exercise at all. None of the women exercised regularly before the study, researchers said.

Expectant women often prefer pool-based activities because the water lends buoyancy (putting less strain on joints; think "weightless!"), helps reduce swelling and does not cause increases in body temperature like other workouts. Check out some of our pool moves in Take Me Out to the Water.

Many women aim for a drug-free birth, but many also end up requesting an epidural (a painkiller injected into your spine) for various reasons—and that's OK! Read up on our list of five ways to increase your chances of a natural birth.

Researchers also noted that one-third of the women gave up attending classes at some point in the study because of time constraints, child-care conflicts or other issues, the NYT said. Women everywhere face these same time challenges, even as more and more doctors urge moms-to-be not to be afraid to exercise. So no excuses—make sure that you take time for yourself to work out.

Maybe it's time to go shopping for a maternity bathing suit. Browse through our fashion section for vibrant maternity swim looks and get ready for some fun and beneficial pool time!

Maria Vega is Fit Pregnancy magazine's copy editor. She loves to swim and wishes she had a pool.