There is no doubt about it, keeping fit during pregnancy helps reduce your risk of pregnancy related conditions and certainly helps prepare you physically for the delivery of your baby.
Swimming is a fantastic option for women who are looking for a gentle form of exercise. The brilliant thing is that you do not necessarily need to be a seasoned swimmer to take it up during pregnancy. Women of varying degrees of fitness will benefit from this wonderful form of exercise. Choose to swim lengths, walk lengths of the pool or do a pre-natal aqua aerobics class to enjoy the benefits of the water.
Swimming is the ideal choice because it requires your body to do less work, compared with exercise on land. You will feel weightless and buoyant. Sore and achey body parts will feel a welcomed relief as your body floats and is supported by the water.
It is recommended to do at least 30 minutes of prenatal exercise per day. It is always a good idea to vary your exercise routine to help keep it interesting. Combining swimming 2 to 3 days a week, with other forms of exercise is a great way to mix things up.
Cardiovascular exercise such as swimming helps to get our heart pumping, boosts blood circulation, improves oxygen levels in the blood, helps to strengthen muscles and loosen joints. All fantastic benefits for expecting women.
There are many reasons why swimming should become part of your weekly routine.
Helps to ease sciatic pain
As you float so does your baby. Pressure is released from your sciatic nerve.
Reduces the feeling of morning sickness
For some women the cool water can help to relieve symptoms of morning sickness i.e nausea.
Keeps you cool
The cool water is likely to be a welcomed relief especially on a hot summer’s day. When we are pregnant our body temperature rises, so we are affected more by the soaring temperatures in the summer months.
Pregnancy is not only physically demanding on your body but it can also bring about emotional challenges too. Swimming is a great form of exercise that balances cardiovascular fitness, endurance, muscle strength and as such is a great stress release activity.
Boosted energy levels
Throughout pregnancy and generally in life it's important to have a disciplined workout routine. Exercise also helps our body release endorphins which can help to reduce our perception of pain and trigger a positive feeling -- which reduces stress and keeps us happy.
Helps to improve your pregnancy and labor experience
Swimming will help to improve muscle tone and endurance. Both are very important during the labor process. Labor can take many hours and a strong body is less likely to need intervention.
Related: 9 Ways To Prepare For Labor
Swimming along with a healthy diet will help to maintain a healthy weight gain during the pregnancy.
Helps maintain a healthy and happy heart
Swimming is a low-impact exercise that benefits cardiovascular health. Maintaining an increased heart rate for a short period of time helps maintain a healthy and happy heart. You will find simple everyday activities like walking become easier as you consistently swim. This type of exercise also helps our bodies to sleep better. Cardiovascular exercise also helps increase lung capacity which allows us to take in more oxygen and helps breathing.
Increases strength, tones muscles and improves blood circulation
Swimming is a fantastic all over body workout and engages the larger muscle groups like your arms and legs and increases muscle tone. Women tend to put on extra weight during their pregnancy, this is nature’s way of preparing their body for breastfeeding. Exercise can help to keep weight gain in check.
Reduces the pressure on the spine and surrounding muscles
When we swim we use the majority of the muscles in your body. This eliminates the potential for weakened areas and tension building up on areas such as the spin. Back and shoulder muscles work together to hold your posture up wright reducing pull forward from your belly weight.
Helps to improve the quality of sleep
Including exercise into our daily routines helps to tire the body out. When we are tired we are more likely to get a good nights sleep.
It's low impact and gentle on your body
Swimming is less strenuous on the body as compared to other forms of aerobic exercise.
With a little one on the way, the weight of the womb makes pregnant bodies heavier and puts strain on the joints. Due to natural buoyancy in water, the water acts as a support and your body feels light and weightless.
Helps to relieve painful pregnancy related conditions
Swimming is low impact and is gentle on your joints. It is particularly beneficial for women who struggle with conditions such as swollen ankles and back pain as swimming does not put any pressure on these conditions and helps to strengthen the muscles surrounding the joints.
The short answer is yes, swimming is a safe form of exercise for a healthy pregnant women.
It is always recommended for any pregnant woman who is taking up a new form of exercise to first consult with her health care professional.
Note to self: If you are not a regular swimmer or an athletic person pre-pregnancy it is always advised to take care and not to push yourself too hard. Start off slow and build up your swim over the months. You should not feel overly exhausted or unwell at anytime. Should you experience any feelings of unwellness, consult the lifeguard and or medical professional immediately.
For those women who are fit and use to an exercise routine pre-pregnancy, care should also be taken as some activities may need to be modified. Speak with swimming instructors first before you take on any swimming programme.
Check if the water is clean
Avoid swimming in dirty/unclean water. Your body is more susceptible to illness and bugs. Stick with workouts in properly-chlorinated pools that have plenty of good air ventilation. Avoid poorly ventilated chlorinated buildings as they could make you feel dizzy and sick.
Can I swim in a hot tub?
Stick to cool water as warmer waters are likely to cause your body to overheat. Heated water could leave you feeling dizzy and or faint. Bugs/germs are also more likely to be found in warmer/hot waters.
Always be mindful of where you step in and around swimming pools. Tiled floors can be slippery. Walk slowly and never rush.
Can I dive into the pool?
Slide carefully or step into the pool gently. Jumping in or diving into the water can cause a build-up of bubbles up inside of your body due to the sudden change of altitude under the pressure of the water. Growing babies are not equipped to deal with this change.
Avoid holding your breath and use the correct breathing technique while you swim. Your baby is reliant on your breaths and constant flow of breathing.
Do I need to drink water?
Whilst it may not seem like it. You do still sweat when you swim. Keeping hydrated is particularly important when you are pregnant. Keep a bottle of water close by and take small sips often to help hydrate. Dehydration can lead to feelings of dizziness, fainting and nausea.
What foods should I eat before exercise?
During pregnancy our body is working very hard to grow a tiny human inside of us. The food we eat not only aids in his or her growth but also determines your well-being too. Eat small meals often to avoid feeling hungry and tired. Choose healthy options such as fruit, vegetables, proteins and low gi carbohydrates which will not only keep you fuller for longer but will help to give you more energy to get through your day.
Women that participate in regular exercise will need more energy rich foods to help ensure they have the stamina to get through their workout. Ie. wholemeal bread, brown rice, pasta to name a few.
The overall objective is to feel comfortable. Avoid swimsuits that are tight and restrictive or clothing that is loose and likely to get tangled in and around your body while you swim. An ideal suit should fit snug but comfortably, hugging and supporting you in all the right places.
As your body changes shape and your bump continues to grow, it is likely that your favourite swimsuit will no longer fit. If your swimsuit is feeling restrictive and tight it is advised to purchase a new one. Maternity swimsuits are a great option as they have been especially designed to accommodate a changing body, with room to further growth.
At Cake Maternity we definitely know what it takes to make a great pregnancy swimsuit!
It is always important to listen to your body. Should you experience any pain or odd sensations that feels unusual and or beyond your expectation, it is advised to stop immediately. Never push through or push yourself beyond what feels normal. Feelings of faintness, shortness of breath, sharp pains, stomach pains and or contractions, dizziness or nausea are all signs that you should stop immediately as there is something very wrong. Move to the side of the pool and get the life guards attention. You need medical attention.
It is always advised to check with your health care provider before embarking on any new form of exercise. Should swimming be new to you, we advise getting the all clear from your doctor first.
1. Choose a local community pool that is situated close to home. You are more likely to go often than if the pool is a half an hour drive away.
2. Purchase a comfortable supportive, non-restrictive swimsuit suitable for swimming in.
Related: How to Choose a Maternity Swimwear
3. Use goggles, flippers or floating devices if necessary to help support your body when exercising. Not everyone is confident in the water or able to swim lengths.
4. Join a pregnancy aqua aerobics class and get motivated. Organised classes are run by trained professionals and are designed to suit your changing body.
5. Listen to your body. Should you feel any unusual pains or feel light headed stop exercise immediately and consult a medical professional.
6. Avoid hot direct sun. Choose an indoor pool with a moderated temperature to help avoid overheating.
7. Drink plenty of water when exercising. Even swimmers need to drink to keep hydrated.
8. Eat a small energy filled snack before exercising to help increase your energy levels. Eat a small snack again after to replace any energy burned.
9. Vary your exercise routine. Keep it interesting by attending different classes and participating in different swimming challenges. This way you are likely to stick with it, as no one feels motivated when they are bored.
10. Create achievable goals and reward yourself when you achieve them. This can help to make exercising fun.
Swimming During Pregnancy: First Trimester
For some women swimming in the first trimester is just not an option. Morning sickness can be debilitating and can prevent you from living a normal life. Be patient with your body. For most women morning sickness will pass by the end of the first trimester.
Swimming During Pregnancy: Second Trimester
As the baby size grows so does your body. The second trimester is the perfect time to start swimming should you have clearance from your healthcare provider. Aim to swim for 30 minutes a day 2 to 3 times a week. Begin slowly and build your swim up over time. Vary your exercises and listen to your body. Some days you may be able to accomplish more than others. Be kind to yourself and give yourself permission to have off days off when you need them.
Swimming During Pregnancy: Third Trimester
Swimming through your third trimester is likely to feel like a welcome relief as your baby bump continues to grow and pressure builds on your body. You may find yourself swimming more than you did in the first and second trimester.
Don’t miss: 7 Benefits Of A Summer Pregnancy
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