Gravity and gravidity: Will microgravity assist pregnancy?

G. Merati, S. Rampichini, M. Roselli, E. Roveda, G. Pizzini, A. Veicsteinas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


During the third trimester of pregnancy, exercise, deep ventilation and supine position may be particularly uncomfortable for pregnant women. Reduction of fetal weight by a microgravity environment may relieve some of this discomfort. This study assessed, by means of heart rate variability (HRV), the cardiovascular adaptation to the supine posture, to relaxing respiratory exercises (deep slow breathing) and to mild and moderate lower limb exercises in pregnant women, both in a dry environment and during a head-out water immersion, which mimics microgravity. Six third-trimester pregnant women (31±3 years; 67.8±8.3 kg; 163±3 cm; gestational age 26±6 weeks) were enrolled. Five-minute series of beat-to-beat RR intervals were recorded by a heart rate monitor in basal (B) state (on a separate day, comfortably sitting in a quiet room, 22° C) and in 2 different environments (G, gym, 22° C; W, water immersion at 34° C), on separate days, in 5 experimental conditions for each environment: (1) resting supine; (2) during upright mild lower limb exercise; (3) during upright moderate lower limb exercise; (4) during controlled deep ventilation (breathing rhythm, 0.1 Hz); (5) during controlled breathing (supine). Compared to B state, HR increased slightly in all experimental conditions in both G (+16%) and W (+8%) environments, whereas blood pressure did not. LF/HF ratio, a marker of sympathovagal balance, increased significantly during G at rest (5.0±2.4, p

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-136
Number of pages8
JournalSport Sciences for Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2006


  • Aorto-caval compression
  • Heart rate variability
  • Microgravity
  • Pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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