Swimming in Pregnancy
Exercising in water in pregnancy – be it swimming or doing other exercises is a great way of staying active as your bump grows. Swimming is an aerobic and strength conditioning exercise – both of which can help shorten labour and reduce the risk of complications at birth. As your bump grows, the feeling of weightlessness in the water should be very comfortable and relaxing.
If you are a swimmer, you will find that in pregnancy swimming is a fantastic low-impact exercise for your joints and ligaments as the buoyancy of the water supports your changing body. As well as being good for your circulation, swimming helps to improve your muscle tone and increase your endurance, whilst also giving you some much needed extra energy and even helping you get a better night’s sleep.
How long and how often?
How long and often to swim depends on how often you were swimming before pregnancy. If you are a regular swimmer around 30 minutes, about 4 times a week is a good starting point. If you haven’t been swimming much before pregnancy, pace yourself – start off slowly with 15 minutes at a time and build up gradually.
Find a swimming stroke that works for you and feels comfortable – again it is important to start off gently.
It is best to avoid swimming using breast stroke as the kicking action can cause back pain if your spine is not aligned correctly. It may help to wear goggles so you can swim with your head down – this keeps your body straighter, which is better for your back. Try to avoid making too many strong twisting movements, as these could overwork your deep tummy muscles or strain your ligaments.
Water exercise classes
If you like the idea of doing exercises in a group, aqua natal classes are a good choice because they are designed specifically for pregnancy.
Often the exercises are carried out to music and involve aerobic and strength exercises as well as focusing on breathing and stretching.
If you can’t find an aqua natal class, and decide to attend a regular aqua aerobics classes not specific to pregnancy, ensure the instructor knows you are pregnant. They should always be qualified to continue to instruct you, and if not explain why and may suggest another class that is better suited and safe for you.
Stay cool in the water
It is also important to ensure you stay well-hydrated when exercising – even in the pool. One tip to avoid overheating is to take a drink with you when you’re in the pool and drink small amounts regularly while swimming or doing a class.
It can be tricky to know if your body is getting too warm when you’re swimming because the water makes you feel cooler. Because of this, the temperature of the water should not be more than 32˚C. If there isn’t a sign up telling you what the water temperature is, ask a member of the pool staff.