While exercise is good for pregnant women, new research suggests that the "boring and repetitive" nature of household chores could lead to a premature birth. What a great excuse for expectant moms to unplug the vacuum put down the duster!
Researchers asked almost 12,000 new mothers how much they had exercised during pregnancy – including housework – and the information showed that mentally unstimulating work, including doing jobs around the house day-in day-out, increased the chances of giving birth at least three weeks early by up to 25%. Although it isn't clear why, researchers think it may be that boring tasks increase levels of stress hormones involved in triggering labour.
The study, published in the journal Perinatal Epidemiology, also threw up some other interesting results. For instance, women who work night shifts seem to have slightly heavier babies, and sedentary lifestyles raised the odds of having an underweight baby, while strenuous exercise did no harm to either mother or baby.
Researcher Hajo Wildschut of Erasmus University in Rotterdam said, "Pregnancy is not a disease. In fact, most women who are pregnant are healthy, and most of them are [delivering] perfectly healthy babies. Women who are healthy and do not have pregnancy complications should not restrict their activities in order to achieve a better pregnancy outcome. They may safely continue their normal daily physical activities, including strenuous activities like jogging, squash and weight training even until late in pregnancy."