Pelvic Exercises Aid Childbirth

Contrary to popular belief, strong muscles help during labor

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FRIDAY, Aug. 13, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Doing pelvic floor muscle exercises while pregnant seems to aid women during labor, according to new Norwegian research.

The results, published in the Aug. 14 issue of the British Medical Journal, contradict a common belief that strong pelvic floor muscles may obstruct labor.

The study included 301 pregnant women who had not given birth before. Half the women did intensive pelvic floor muscle training exercises between the 20th and 36th week of pregnancy. The other women in the control group did no special training.

There was a lower rate of prolonged second stage (active pushing) labor among women in the training group -- only 24 percent had not delivered after 60 minutes compared to 38 percent in the control group.

There was, however, no significant difference in the average duration of the second stage labor -- 40 minutes for the training group and 45 minutes for the control group.

The intensive training of the pelvic floor muscles gives pregnant women improved muscle control and strong flexible muscles that help, rather than obstruct, labor, the study concluded.

More information

The American Medical Association has information about birth labor.

SOURCE: British Medical Journal, news release, Aug. 12, 2004

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