MORE than half of women are taking little or no exercise before becoming pregnant, a study has found.
The findings of a survey of women attending an ante-natal clinic come in the wake of concerns about the high numbers of pregnant women who are overweight or obese.
Some 58pc of the women did very little exercise and only 30pc reached the minimum exercise levels recommended by the Health Service Executive. Most of the pregnant women had a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or more, which indicates they were overweight, Waterford nurse Mary O' Donnell told an international midwifery conference in the Royal College of Surgeons.
"The majority of women were older in lower occupations and 61.3pc had a BMI of more than 25," she said.
In pregnancy, a BMI of more than 30 increases the risk of a range of health problems for both mother and baby.
Obesity raises the risk of miscarriage, gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, blood clots, post-caesarean wound infection, haemorrhage after the birth and having a baby with an abnormally high birth weight.
Eating healthily, including knowing the foods not to eat, and activities such as walking and swimming are good for all pregnant women, the report said. If women are not active before pregnancy, they should always seek advice from their doctor or midwife before beginning any exercise regime.