Background: Pregnant women often experience sleep disturbances due to fetal movement, an increased need to urinate, and general physical discomfort. Poor sleep is associated with poor psychological outcomes such as low maternal-fetal attachment, which itself can lead to problems. Exercise is known to improve sleep quality in other populations, but does it do the same in pregnant women?
The study: In this 3-month randomized controlled trial, 140 women at 16 to 30 weeks of gestation either engaged in ordinary activity or followed a 20-minute unsupervised aerobic exercise routine three times per week. Both groups received normal prenatal care. At baseline and after 1 and 3 months, sleep quality and maternal-fetal attachment were measured using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index and the Modified Maternal-Fetal Attachment Scale, respectively.
The results: While sleep quality significantly worsened in the control group, it remained the same in the exercise group. Maternal-fetal attachment increased in both groups, but the magnitude of this change was slightly higher in the exercise group. That said, there were no significant between-group differences. Overall, these results suggest that this exercise routine may prevent pregnancy-related deterioration in sleep quality and may boost maternal-fetal attachment, but these results aren’t tremendously strong.
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