Gynecology & Reproductive Health

Abstract

Perception and Practice of Exercise during Pregnancy by Antenatal Women in Southeastern Nigeria

Adinma J.I.B, Adinma E.D, Umeononihu O.S, Oguaka V, Oyedum S.O.

Background: Exercise in pregnancy is known to be beneficial to both the mother and the fetus during the course of pregnancy, labour/delivery and in postpartum recovery. There are few instances when exercise is contraindicated but even in most cases, the benefits outweigh the risks. It is important to study the level of awareness, perception and the practice of exercise in pregnancy which will form the reference point for policy formulation to address the identifiable areas of need.

Aims and Objectives: To determine the perception and practice of exercise in pregnancy by women during an antenatal care outreach programme in Anambra state south-east Nigeria.

Methodology: A cross-sectional, questionnaire-based study of 115 pregnant women who attended antenatal care outreach programme in two locations in Anambra state, south-east Nigeria. The data obtained was analysed using SPSS version 20.0.

Results: A little fewer than half of the respondents 52 (45.2%) were of age 26-30 years, while the predominant 79 (58.7%) gestational age group was ˂ 28 weeks and most parity79 (68.7%) was 1-4. Over half of the respondents 68 (59.1%) belonged to the social class 3 and nearly half of the respondents were traders 56 (48.7%). As high as 100 (87%) had heard about exercise in pregnancy while 80 (69.6%) had engaged in exercise while pregnant. Majority of the respondents 73 (63.5%) had engaged in walking as a form of exercise, while 21 (18.3%), 7 (6.1%), 4 (3.5%), 1 (0.9%), 1 (0.9%) had engaged in dancing, jogging, skipping, swimming and jumping respectively. Forty-two (36.5%) had engaged in exercise before 28 weeks of gestation while 18 (15.7%) and 2 (1.7%) did so at 28-36 weeks and 37-42 weeks respectively. The commonest exercise amongst the various social classes was walking, followed at a distance by dancing, jogging, skipping, jumping and swimming respectively. The most perceived benefits of exercise in pregnancy by the participants are as a necessity to life 105 (91.3%) and enhancement of labour/delivery 92 (80%) while 10 (8.7%) had the misconception that pregnant women should not engage in exercise.

Conclusion: Although majority of the antenatal women in the population studied engage in exercise, this is oftentimes restricted to “walking”. In addition, a number of the respondents had negative perception as to the value of exercise in pregnancy. There is an urgent need to educate the women during the pre-conception and early pregnancy periods to initiate, sustain, modify and expand the range of exercises undertaken while pregnant. This will go a long way to avail the women and their unborn babies the potential benefits associated with attaining the recommended level of exercise in pregnancy.

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