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Exercise and pregnancy

Keli Lane was a former Australian Water polo player who desperately wanted to represent her country at the Sydney Olympics. What makes her story disturbing is that she hid 5 pregnancies from coaches and team mates and in 2010 was found guilty of murdering her new-born daughter. It is reported that Ms Lane suffered from a number of psychological problems; including fear of rejection from family and friends and fear that her sporting career would be threatened by her pregnancies and children.

For more information on this extra-ordinary case you can review Australian media articles:

· The 7:30 report (13/12/2010)

· The Australian News (10/08/2010)

As well as being a very sad story, this extreme example of an athlete continuing to train and compete while pregnant lead to many people to ask the question: Should athletes continue to exercise in pregnancy? Chapter 43 of the new edition of the Clinical Sports Medicine textbook, titled ‘Women and activity related issues across the lifespan’ provides the clinician with vital information needed to help answer this question. The information presented in this chapter is relevant to any clinician working with pregnant women and includes a summary of the latest Guidelines for exercise during pregnancy and postpartum period by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. The chapter outlines absolute contra-indications as well as advantages of exercise during pregnancy such as prevention and treatment for gestational diabetes, improved general physical and psychological wellbeing and a reduction in risk of pre-eclampsia.

A recent podcast from the British Journal of Sports medicine features an interview with UK consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist Doctor Bronwyn Bell. In this podcast, Doctor Bell discusses issues related to exercise and pregnancy in conception, pregnancy and the post natal stage. Three case studies are presented to enhance the clinical relevance of the information presented. The ‘unfit and pregnant mother to be’, the recreational athlete and the professional athlete all have unique management pathways.

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