ball4 The answer is a resounding yes!  This study, which included 36 randomized controlled trials including a total of 3359 women, concluded that those who exercised during pregnancy were significantly less likely to have a cesarean birth than those who did not exercise.  Also, women in the exercise groups gained significantly less weight than those in the control groups, although their babies were not smaller at birth.

According to the online summary, this study aims to evaluate the effect of structured physical exercise programs during pregnancy on the course of labor and delivery. Structured physical exercise during pregnancy reduces risk of cesarean delivery. This is an important finding to convince women to be active during their pregnancy and should lead the physician OR MIDWIFE to recommend physical exercise to pregnant women, when this is not contraindicated.


  • A systematic review and meta–analysis.
  • Medline, The Cochrane Library.
  • Randomized controlled trials (RCT) evaluating effects of exercise programs during pregnancy on labor and delivery.
  • Results summarized as relative risks.


  • 16 RCT were included, including 3359 women.
  • Women in exercise groups had significantly lower risk of cesarean section (RR, 0.85, 95% confidence interval, 95%CI 0.73 to 0.99).
  • Birthweight was not significantly reduced in exercise groups.
  • The risk of instrumental delivery was similar between groups (RR 1.00, 95%CI 0.82 to 1.22).
  • Data on Apgar score, episiotomy, epidural anesthesia, perineal tear, length of labor and induction of labor were insufficient to draw conclusions.
  • Using data from 11 studies (1668 women), analysis showed that women in the exercise groups gained significantly less weight than women in control groups (mean difference of –1.13 Kg, 95% CI –1.49 to –0.78).

Domenjoz I, et al.. Effect of physical activity during pregnancy on mode of delivery.  American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 03/24/2014

Online summary at