Pregnant women will receive a 4D ultrasound, clinical evaluation and personalized physical activity plan through the new Exercise in Pregnancy Clinic.
Two UAB Medicine physicians want pregnant women to add another prescription to their medical care. An exercise prescription.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends physical activity and exercise during pregnancy, yet many pregnant patients are not provided with adequate exercise recommendations.
Sara Gould, M.D., associate professor in the UAB Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, and Chase Cawyer, M.D., assistant professor in the UAB Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, established the new Exercise in Pregnancy Clinic at UAB Hospital-Highlands to combat physical inactivity in pregnancy.
“Exercising throughout one’s life, including during pregnancy, can help maintain heart fitness, reduce obesity and related conditions, and prevent pregnancy complications,” Cawyer said. “The Exercise in Pregnancy Clinic bridges the gap between physician recommendations and actionable plans for pregnant women.”
Physical inactivity is among the top five reasons women die young. Exercise provides an essential component for a healthy and long life. In pregnancy, exercise lowers one’s risk for a range of pregnancy complications, improves a woman’s overall health and helps with postpartum recovery.
Studies showed physical inactivity during pregnancy can cause maternal obesity and creates a higher risk for preterm birth, emergency cesarean delivery and preeclampsia. Sedentary pregnant patients are also more likely to develop gestational diabetes mellitus, a condition where hormones from the placenta prevent the body from effectively using insulin. GDM, while manageable, increases one’s risk of a cesarean birth, serious breathing difficulties and developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.
Additionally, the United States has seen a growing problem of obesity and excessive weight gain during pregnancy, leading to severe health risks for mother and fetus, even with strong recommendations from ACOG to exercise during pregnancy. In a study, Gould evaluated why many pregnant women were not meeting exercise guidelines and obstetricians’ beliefs and recommendations regarding exercise during pregnancy.
“Exercise is a known way to combat the obesity and excessive weight gain epidemic, but surveys showed many providers were not providing adequate and thorough exercise recommendations to their patients,” Gould said. “While following guidelines, most providers advised patients with uncomplicated pregnancies to continue their current workout routines. This advice did not account for many pregnant women, especially those who are overweight, who did not have consistent healthy habits pre-pregnancy.”
Physical activity not only lowers risk of pregnancy complications, but also helps women adjust to …….