The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends moderate intensity exercise for healthy, pregnant women and recognizes the potential for pregnant athletes to exercise at higher intensities with medical guidance. This study examines rowers' perceptions about competitive exercise during pregnancy as well as their training and competition patterns during childbearing years.
Between June and December 2013, 224 U.S. Masters rowers completed a 122-item survey examining perceptions about exercise during pregnancy. In-depth interviews were conducted with a subsample of participants.
Pregnant rowers demonstrated higher levels of exercise adherence than the general population: 98.7% (n=78) exercised for any amount of time during any past pregnancy; the majority of women met or exceeded antenatal exercise guidelines during the first (97.4%, n=39) and second (91.7%, n=36) trimesters. Medical providers were the primary information sources for pregnant rowers, yet interviews indicate that health care providers continue giving outdated advice. Rowing-specific safety concerns were identified including abdominal trauma. Higher concerns about risk were reported by younger, nulligravid women, with lesser adult rowing experience. Rowers altered training patterns during pregnancy based on medical advice, safety concerns, physical limitations, and previous experience or exposure.
This study revealed a highly driven to exercise pregnant population. The identification of rowing-specific safety concerns, previously unexplored in the literature, highlights the need for further research on competitive exercise during pregnancy and may have implications for pregnant athletes in other sports. Medical providers are the primary information sources for pregnant rowers, indicating that obstetrics care providers need familiarity with antepartum exercise guidelines.
University of Central Florida College of Medicine, Orlando, FL
Financial Disclosure: The authors did not report any potential conflicts of interest.