From Tummy to Tots: The Benefits of Antenatal Swimming
Welcome to our three-month mini-series taking you on a journey exploring the fantastic benefits of the water - from pregnancy through to toddlers taking their first independent swims.
This month our National Aquatics Training Lead, Lynn Goring-Crook, kicks off this series by introducing the benefits of antenatal swimming for Mum and baby.
Water is relaxing and great for our health and wellbeing, which is why it makes one of the best forms of exercise to take part in whilst pregnant. I loved swimming during pregnancy, it was my ‘go to’ each week to help keep fit and healthy plus have some much-needed relaxation time. There are many reasons and research behind this but there are a couple of points which are worth noting.
Firstly, it is a low-impact exercise on joints and ligaments due to the unique properties of water and how it supports you. This is great for pregnant people and provides a light relief as your bump grows.
Submerging in the water will literally ‘take the weight off’ and helps with soothing your bones and muscles which take strain as you grow a new life inside you. Because of this, I used to find a swim at the end of the day was perfect to not only exercise but relax also.
What can it do for me?
Swimming will help improve your overall strength and will help the muscles in your abdomen and back particularly as your baby grows in-preparation for labour.
Through each of my three pregnancies, as my bump grew, I switched from swimming front crawl to breaststroke. I found this more comfortable in the water and I always ended my session with floating on my back. But by adding a woggle/noddle behind my head, shoulders, and arms, I allowed my body position to adjust and really sink into the water’s support and make the most of weightlessness.
You should find a swimming stroke that works best for you and supports your health and body. If in doubt, discuss this with your midwife or doctor as they will be able to give the best advice as to how often you should be exercising and what to be mindful of as your pregnancy progresses.
Like with all exercise, if you are new to swimming then build up how long and vigorous your swim is -and remember this can change on a weekly basis during pregnancy.
Is it safe to swim whilst pregnant?
Some women worry the chemicals used in pools could harm their baby, however there is no evidence to suggest this. What you should be aware of is staying hydrated and not overheating.
Avoid using pools which are over 32 degrees and hydrotherapy pools that are over 35 degrees. It’s always a good idea to take a water bottle with you to use before, during and after your session and if there is a sauna or jacuzzi available, then these are best avoided.
I always slept better at night after my swim and research does suggest that swimming regularly during pregnancy can help with childbirth. It is also a great way to introduce your baby to the sounds and motion of the pool before birth and hopefully this will aid their own swimming journey.
Next month we will discuss your baby’s first precious moments in the pool and how they will benefit from the bond created between parents and baby through water. We’re confident this will lead to them going on to have a safe and lifelong participation in the water.
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