Aquarobics classes cut the likelihood of a pregnant woman needing pain relief during labour, a study suggests.
Experts from the University of Campinas, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, found that only 27% of women who did aquarobics three times a week during pregnancy asked for pain relief compared with 65% of women who did not do the exercises.
Researchers divided 71 women into two groups for the study, published in the journal Reproductive Health.
The first group of 34 women undertook 50 minutes of aquarobics three times a week in an indoor pool during their pregnancy.
Meanwhile, the second group, of 37 women, did not do any regular physical exercise during their pregnancy.
The authors noted that there was no difference between the groups in terms of how long their labour lasted or whether they required a Caesarean section.
They concluded: "The regular practice of moderate water aerobics by sedentary and low-risk pregnant women was not detrimental to the health of the mother or the child.
"There was no influence on maternal cardiovascular capacity, duration of labour or type of delivery; however, there were fewer requests for analgesia during labour in the water aerobics group."
"Yes, I would highly recommend aquarobics, yoga classes and even pilates supervised by appropriately trained staff for pregnant women. My daughter completed all the above classes during her recent first pregnancy and did not require any pain relief during labour. Her labour was five hours." - Joan Dyson, Leeds