We all know that we should exercise every day, but did you know it’s especially important for expecting mothers? In their Committee Opinion 650, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) encourages women with low-risk pregnancies to work towards a goal of 20-30 minutes of moderate-intensity pregnancy exercises.
Aerobic activity strengthens the body, increases blood flow, and supports overall health. Some of us develop exercise habits early in life and become athletes. But let’s be real, most of us aren’t athletic at all and dread the thought of pounding the pavement, working up a sweat, or dodging the neighbors’ dogs; especially when we’re carrying extra weight, that may stretch or kick vigorously when jostled!
Swimming is a great, low-impact exercise for the expecting mother in any trimester and can be worked into the busiest schedule. (Make sure to talk to your health-care provider before beginning a new workout regimen or continuing with your pre-pregnancy work outs.)
Morning sickness relief
Some find that a brisk swim in the morning starts the day off right and some moms say it may even reduce the nausea associated most commonly with the first trimester of pregnancy.
Unwind with a little natural stress relief
Swimming doesn’t have to be an early morning workout. If morning’s just aren’t your thing, try dipping your toes at the end of your work day. You may discover that swimming helps you switch gears from the hard-driving business day to home, dinner, and winding down for the night.
Don’t know where to swim while pregnant?
Outdoor, natural environments are one option, but check with your state’s environmental or natural resource offices or websites to learn about the water quality in lakes, streams, rivers, or shorelines. The Nevada Division of Environmental Protection, for example, has several water quality fact sheets including reports on wadeable streams across Nevada, nutrient quality in lakes and rivers, etc. The NDEP also offers an email subscription for updates on state water quality.
Nikelle Murphy suggests on Cheatsheet.com to look for algae blooms, swift currents, posted warning signs, confluences (where two rivers come together), and nearby farmland as indicators that a natural water venue may be unsafe for swimming.
Pool water, whether chlorinated or treated with salt, is considered safe for moms and their developing babies. However, midwife Robyn McHugh, APRN, CNM reminds us that more naturally treated water is best when it’s available. She says swimming during pregnancy is great exercise and women shouldn’t be afraid of swimming in chlorinated water, but if the more natural salt-treated water is available, why not take the more natural route? Salt provides a more natural, gentle water treatment that still keeps the pool safe to swim in, however is just a more natural way to generate chlorine to clean the water.
The cleanest natural source of backyard swim fun is a pool with chlorine free copper ionization filtration. The patented process is nearly chemical free and entirely chlorine free and has been used in commercial building since the 1970’s. Hospitals are starting to adopt copper water filtration because of it’s exclusive water-filtration ability to kill MRSA (the only water filtration process available to do so). The ceramic fiberglass pools from our manufacturer, Viking Pools, have come with the copper filtration system for 12 years.
Will diving in hurt the baby?
Why risk it? Diving or jumping into the water jolts the mother as well as the baby. Walk into the pool from the shallow end or climb in carefully on a ladder.
I don’t have anything to wear!
Stylish maternity swimwear that supports your changing physique is commonly available in stores during local swimming seasons or on-line any time. If you plan on this being your last pregnancy and you don’t want to invest in a swimsuit you’ll wear for three or four months, check out second-hand stores in your area or in an online boutique. Another option: check with your BFF’s. Chances are, they would love to share maternity clothes with you!
Ugh! Moving hurts.
As your baby grows into the third trimester, you may develop discomfort in places you never dreamed could be sore. Ligaments and tendons stretch and muscles develop to keep us walking upright, but exercise can still be daunting when you’re uncomfortable sitting or standing.
That’s the awesome thing about swimming. Since your feet are not pounding the pavement, you avoid impact that can cause legs, ankles, and feet pain or discomfort. You even get relief from that darned gravity making everything feel like concrete. Buoyancy can be pregnant weight’s best friend!
What about my toddler?
Toddlers often enjoy the water too, especially if it means they get some special time with a mom who is busy with a career and preparing for a new baby.
Use approved floatation devices that fit the toddler and that they are comfortable with and trust. Pull them through the water with you. The breaststroke works well for this, if you push the child ahead of you and then come up smiling with each stroke.
A side-stroke also works well, pulling the child alongside of you. Floating, between practicing different strokes, you can hold the child’s hand and enjoy relaxing together. You can visit about their day at day care, what you had for lunch, or an upcoming activity.
The time you spend with this child now will help them develop a sense of security, deepen your relationship, and reinforce that they can trust you. Swimming together provides an opportunity for you to teach them about basic water and pool safety and the importance of exercise.
What will the baby experience during my pregnancy exercises?
That’s a hard question to answer, as no baby has reported on that yet! However, take stock of what you do know. If you enjoy your swim, your body will produce the hormones associated with pleasure and your baby experiences the hormones through you.
Besides that, your baby is already floating in amniotic fluid, so the overall experience is probably common to the developing baby. A note of caution: the same ACOG Committee Opinion mentioned above also sates that scuba diving should be avoided, as the baby’s pulmonary circulation is unable to filter the associated bubble formations.
I don’t know how to swim!
Many of the same benefits can be attained by walking in the pool. You can push and pull floaties or other objects that will cause water resistance to exercise your arms. Hold onto the side and kick your feet. Think about how other animals move in the water and try to imitate them while holding onto the side. Swim centers, YMCA’s and gyms often offer water aerobic classes.
Are there other safety concerns?
Like with any activity when you’re pregnant, you’ll want to be extra careful and not take unnecessary risks. Walk on the pool deck—don’t run. Breathe steadily (don’t hold your breath) so the baby’s oxygen won’t be interrupted. Remove other objects that may cause hazardous conditions. You don’t want to hit your head on something and lose consciousness! If there isn’t a lifeguard on duty, swim with a friend. If you are unsure about the benefits or risks of swimming through your pregnancy, check with your doctor or midwife. Be safe, not sorry!
One more thing: after the baby comes, you can still swim. Swimming is a great way to keep your body in shape during any part of motherhood from pregnancy to swimming with the grandchildren. It promotes muscle development, coordination, and good breathing habits, plus it’s low impact.
Ready to swim but prefer the privacy and convenience of a pool in your own backyard? Start with some swimming pool ideas to begin dreaming up the pool that would be right for you and your family, then come by our showroom to go shopping!
Our most popular (and longest lasting, lowest maintenance pools) are our ceramic core fiberglass pools. They come in all shapes and sizes and may be simple or extravagant depending on how much you want your fiberglass pool to cost. Our family owned business is ready to help your family develop a lifelong healthy habit you won’t want to break: swimming in your own backyard. And after that bouncing bundle of joy is born, we can help you find the perfect Bullfrog Spa to help you relax in your new season of life!