Splash into your pregnancy: Benefits of pool workouts

Aquatic exercise and pregnancy complement each other very well. Pool workouts are my absolute favorite prenatal exercise.

I know that finding a maternity swimsuit you’re comfortable in can feel like a TASK but I hope to convince you that the challenge is worth it.

Benefits of Swimming While Pregnant

1.

Swimming is gentle. There’s a lot less impact on your joints than doing land-based exercises. So, oftentimes, that means you can do it for longer. Having cardiovascular endurance is important if you end up having long labor. Aerobic exercise for > 2.5 hours a week significantly decreases your chances of chronic illness. 

2.

Swimming promotes both mobility and stability. So, while in the water you are both stretching and strengthening.

3.

Swimming links movement and your breath. Lifting your head out of the water rhythmically and routinely reinforces the movement-breath-body connection. This is a crucial part of delivery.

4.

Swimming can help reduce swelling. Especially if you are upright, and treading water in the deep end. The hydrostatic pressure promotes venous return. It stimulates the lymphatic system and reduces edema and swelling.

5.

Swimming while pregnant alleviates that heavy/cumbersome feeling. Even just for a little bit. It’s nice to feel a little ebullient for a little bit. You weigh a tenth of what you do on land when you’re in the pool!

6.

Swimming can calm your nervous system and decrease your stress levels.

7.

There’s no way to prove this...but I just have a feeling babies in utero like it. They are born knowing how to swim, after all. Anecdotally, I’ve had 4 mothers + my own breech baby flipped directly after a swimming session. (As felt by the mothers and then confirmed within 2 hours afterward via ultrasound.) So, if you are late into your 3rd trimester and have a breech baby, try swimming around and see if they flip. It’s worth a try. Especially if it helps you avoid an unnecessary C-section... or seriously uncomfortable attempts and manual flipping.

Don’t have a pool? Here are some ideas:

1.

Find a local YMCA or sports club with a pool and inquire about membership.

2.

Look for neighborhood or apartment complexes with pools. Inquire about a personal pool pass during their “off hours”.

3.

Check out your local college or high school. There might be discounts for nearby residents or alumni.

4.

Check with your local Facebook groups. See if any groups swim together weekly in a nature-based place.

5.

Ask a friend! (Access to their pool or a pool pass could be an awesome baby shower gift idea!)

OK, I found a pool...now what?

1.

Here’s a link to a 1-minute video of some of the aquatic exercises Train4Birth recommends!

2.

Walk! Walk forward, backward, and sideways! You don’t have to “be a swimmer” or even technically get your hair wet to benefit from being in the pool!

3.

Swim laps. All strokes are safe while pregnant. Although I would advise rotating in backstroke... only because it can get difficult to breathe with a baby pushing down on your diaphragm. The breaststroke feels especially nice. Get your breaststroke in now... you'll have to avoid it for a while postpartum as things heal (I learned this the hard way!).

4.

Zumba, dance, water aerobics class. These aren’t just for “old ladies” they are so much fun and most places offer shallow and deep water options!

5.

Pretend you are a dolphin, or a mermaid, or a starfish. Anything that evokes a little silliness and lightheartedness.

6.

Make a synchronized swimming routine with a friend.

Be safe!

1.

Let the lifeguard know you are pregnant (you never want people to assume). It's nice to have someone keep an extra eye on you. Your blood pressure is susceptible to more fluctuations than the average population.

2.

Bring a water bottle and set it next to the pool’s edge. It can be difficult to tell if you’re getting overheated or dehydrated in a pool.

3.

Don’t go scuba diving. Most experts advise against scuba diving for pregnant women because of the risk of fetal gas embolism. I’d even er on the side of caution and avoid diving any deeper than 8-10 feet.

4.

Avoid hot tubs or prolonged warm water use. Body temperatures above 104 degrees Fahrenheit can create risk for the baby.

5.

Avoid breath-holding. Your body needs extra oxygen when growing a baby. Plus, holding your breath is called the Valsalva and it can put extra pressure on your pelvic floor.

6.

Keep your intensity to a moderate level.  Make sure you could carry on a conversation while exercising.

...what about germs and chlorine?

The CDC says that pools are not high-risk areas for COVID transmission. Still take precautions, and don’t spend lengthy amounts of time in the locker room. Social distance while in the pool, and wear your mask in and out  

What about chlorine affecting my baby?

Ideally, salt or natural springs/clean outdoor bodies of water are ideal. But, sadly, in today’s world, those can be hard to come by.

Here’s what the CDC says about that:

There haven’t been any great human studies about it, but so far, they haven’t found a reason to issue concern.

Feel free to talk with your doctor about concerns. For me, the benefits of swimming while pregnant outweigh the risks.

If you already have a swimming routine and want to augment or it to make it more pregnancy beneficial, I’m happy to help modify/design your routine.

If you are more of a land-lover and the idea of getting in a pool for prenatal exercise is just not your thing...then feel free to reach out at [email protected]

I'm full of ideas about how you can stay physically healthy during your pregnancy. It’s easier to be proactive about your health now than it is to try to heal a complication. Or resume fitness from a seriously deconditioned state + motherhood down the road.

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