Pregnancy All-in-One For Dummies
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You're not the only one who benefits from your fit pregnancy — your baby gets in on the action, too! Women who exercise during pregnancy see the following benefits in their babies.

A better-functioning placenta

Okay, so your baby may not thank you for producing a better-functioning placenta the way he would thank you for, say, a car when he turns 16, but a better-functioning placenta is actually better for your baby than any hot rod will ever be!

The placenta is an organ that develops inside your uterus during your pregnancy. Throughout your pregnancy, the placenta transports nutrients, oxygen, and waste products between your baby's and your blood supply via his umbilical cord. The better the blood flow to and from the placenta, the healthier the baby.

A study by Dr. Clapp showed that regular exercise during pregnancy leads to a placenta that grows about 30 percent faster in mid-pregnancy and has about 15 percent more blood vessels and surface area at the end of pregnancy. This effect on the placenta may have an added benefit of providing a safety margin for the fetus in times of stress-caused decreases in uterine blood flow.

A leaner child

Dr. Clapp discovered that when women exercise regularly (three to five times per week) during pregnancy, their babies are born with less fat. And though babies of exercisers are leaner, they're not born with low birth weight; in fact, they're well within normal limits — the same size range as babies born to mothers who didn't exercise, in terms of weight, limb lengths, and head and chest circumferences. They're just leaner.

And this leanness continues. Dr. Clapp's studies showed that by age 5, children of women who exercised while pregnant are generally still leaner than children born to women who didn't exercise during pregnancy. What a great way to help your baby start life as a healthy person!

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