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Swimming and Pregnancy

According to the American Pregnancy Association, swimming is great for pregnant woman. They say it is the best and perhaps the most recommended strategy for the maintenance of health and wellness in pregnant women.

In this article, we look at swimming and pregnancy and how it is beneficial.

Swimming is a Safe Workout

Swimming is one of the exercises recommended during pregnancy due in part to its great value and the fact that it’s a low impact sport.

Expectant mothers can enjoy a safe and more comfortable way to exercise.

When using swimming as exercise during pregnancy, it provides moderate intensity cardiovascular workout sessions without applying added stress or pressure on ligaments and joints.

Because water is buoyant, the water helps support the mother and decreases the burden on her spine and limbs. Plus, as the belly grows with pregnancy, there are generally no adaptions that need to be made to continue swimming as an exercise.

Benefits of Swimming While Pregnant

  • It’s a low impact exercise beneficial for cardiovascular health.
  • Swimming enhances physical endurance, improves circulation, tones muscles and increases strength.
  • When you swim, it works against the added stress and strain on spinal muscles.
  • During pregnancy the shoulders and spine undergo some anatomical and physiological changes. Swimming can gently improve muscular strength and functionality.
  • The cool water guards against overheating.
  • It helps prevent injury by supporting ligaments and joints during exercise.
  • You can reduce fatigue and improve quality of sleep.

Basic Swimming Guidelines

The guidelines for expectant mothers and exercising in the pool are similar to exercise in general. It’s important to stay hydrated and keep the heart rate within doctor-recommend levels.

While no one swimming stroke is safer than another, women should practice the strokes that are comfortable.

Women can also do other exercises in the pool. Diving should be avoided. Swimming can be safely performed during all three trimesters of pregnancy. Here are some tips in regards to swimming strokes:

  • Early in pregnancy, all strokes are fine.
  • In late pregnancy, breaststroke may be beneficial as it promotes good posture and strengthening of the back and chest muscles.
  • Backstroke should be avoided in late pregnancy as the baby may cause pressure on the main blood vessels in the abdomen

Swimming Exercises

Here are just a few ideas for exercises to do in the pool.

  • Swim laps
  • Tread water
  • Arm exercises using water weights (foam barbells that create resistance under water): Start with your arms at your sides. Grip the bars of the water weights with your palms facing up. Raise your forearms to the level of the water, keeping your elbows close to your body and your wrists straight. Then turn the barbells over so that the palms of your hands face the bottom of the pool. Push your hands down until your arms are straight again. Repeat 12 to 15 times or until you’re fatigued.
  • Resistance exercise using a kickboard: Standing up straight with your legs comfortably apart, tighten your abdominal muscles. Extend your right arm and hold the kickboard on each end. Keeping your left elbow close to your body, move the kickboard toward the center of your body. Return to the starting position and repeat 12 to 15 times or until you’re fatigued. Then extend your left arm and repeat the exercise on the other side.
  • Leg exercise using a noodle: To strengthen your leg muscles, tie a water noodle into a knot around your foot or water shoe. Stand with your back to the side of the pool in waist-high water, placing your arms on the edge of the pool for stability. Straighten your leg in front of you, then flex your knee to about a 90-degree position. Return to the starting position and repeat 12 to 15 times or until you’re fatigued. Tie the water noodle into a knot around your other foot or water shoe and repeat with the other leg

As with any exercise regimen, and especially during pregnancy, please consult with your doctor before beginning.

Image: 40weeks_ua