image001According to American Pregnancy Association, swimming is the best and perhaps the most recommended strategy for the maintenance of health and wellness in pregnant women. Swimming allows moderate intensity cardiovascular workout sessions during pregnancy without applying added stress or pressure on ligaments and joints. Swimming can be safely performed during all three trimesters of pregnancy. However, before starting swimming regimen, it is important to discuss with your healthcare provider regarding efficacy, positive aspects and negative aspects of swimming while pregnant.

Swimming While Pregnant—Is It Safe?

Generally swimming is considered safe for pregnant women but extreme caution must be practiced in women who are labeled as high-risk or complicated pregnancies. If a woman knows how to swim (and has been swimming before becoming pregnant) she should continue the practice during pregnancy as well. However, women who never exercised at all before becoming pregnant may experience moderate degree of difficulty while pregnant. Before starting any exercise (including swimming while pregnant), gently stretch your body and do some warm up exercises. Avoid overexerting the body and always try to understand the demands and amount of physical exertion your body can bear without increasing the risk of injury or other harm.

The Debate on Chlorinated Pools

Swimming delivers soothing comfort to the pregnant women especially in third trimester by inducing relief from aching joints. Swimming in chlorinated pools is safe as long as the concentration of chemicals in pool water is monitored appropriately.

There is no data available that may suggest that swimming in chlorinated pools can increase the risk of birth defects. However, swimming in un-chlorinated pool can be a risk as swimmer can get infections from contaminated water.

To Be on the Safe Side  

Recently press has highlighted the information related to dangers of chloroform uptake by pregnant woman while swimming in chlorinated pools. Extensive experimentation was done and it was concluded that pools contain high quantities of disinfectant and biological by-products that can directly affect the reproductive system of a pregnant woman. Data suggested that an hour of swim can deliver 141 times higher dose of chloroform when compared to 10 minutes shower. However, further research is being done to produce conclusive results. For best results, it is recommended to swim in pools where chlorine levels are adequately monitored.

What Are the Benefits of Swimming While Pregnant?

The role of aerobic exercises during pregnancy is exceptional as it helps in enhancing the body’s ability to utilize and process oxygen. Swimming is another form of aerobic exercise as it involves large group of muscles (i.e. legs and arms as well as smaller group of muscles).

  • It is a low impact exercise that is beneficial for cardiovascular health.
  • Swimming can enhance physical endurance in a person, improves circulation, tone muscles and increase strength.
  • Swimming works against the added stress and strain on spinal muscles (due to forward shifting and uterine expansion during pregnancy).
  • During pregnancy the shoulders and spine undergo many anatomical and physiological changes to counter-balance the shift in normal architecture. Swimming can gently improve the muscular strength and functionality.
  • Water also guards a pregnant woman from overheating and prevents injury by supporting ligaments and joints during exercise.
  • After swimming most females experience reduction in fatigue levels and improved quality of sleep.
  • Swimming can also help in maintaining the weight of pregnant mommy under normal range.

Precautions You Should Take When Swimming During Pregnancy

Swimming is considered as the safest exercise. A properly trained female swimmer can easily continue her swimming after getting pregnant without doing much modification. However, make sure that you should know the signs at which you should stop exercising during pregnancy.

General Precautions

  • Consult with your midwife or doctor for an advice can resolve major issues pertinent to exercising or swimming while pregnant.
  • A beginner pregnant woman should always start exercising slowly, initially with stretching then warm up and then cool downs.
  • While lying in water one can forget to keep herself hydrated. According to some guidelines given in several researches it is important for a pregnant mother to drink about 8 oz. of water before starting swimming, a glass of water after every 20 minutes of exercise and a glass of water after coming out of pool. The quantity of water increases in humid and hot weather.
  • Adding glucose in water is a healthy option, unless there is a medical restriction.
  • In early pregnancy stage, all kinds of stokes are safe and suitable; however, breaststroke is more suitable in late pregnancy as it maintains optimal posture and promotes the strength of chest and back muscles.

First-trimester Tips

If you have capacity and strength, ideally you should swim for about 30 minutes each day during first trimester. It is also suggested that starting the day with swimming in morning can counteract nausea and improves strength.

Second-trimester Tips

Usually it is seen that expectant moms cut down on swimming because of their growing size and due to decreasing effects of gravity as a result of unique water buoyancy. If you are experiencing same problems, you can easily do backstroking while lying on your back without harming the flow of blood. It is not necessary to modify the routine a female was previously following; however, buying a maternity swimsuit would definitely make things more comfortable.

Third-trimester Tips

In third trimester doing breaststroke is most beneficial as it elongate muscles of chest and reduces the stress on back muscles. A snorkel can also be used to relieve pressure from the neck while doing bob up and down. Avoid backstrokes as the time of labor approaches

Danger Signs to Watch For:

If you are experiencing the following troubling symptoms during swimming, immediately get off the water and seek medical help:

  • Breathlessness, dizziness, light headedness
  • If you feel palpitations (subjective feeling of fast or irregular heartbeat)
  • Uterine contractions
  • Pain in abdomen
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Loss of fluid

In all such cases, pregnant females with history of ruptured membranes, more than three miscarriages, weak cervix, early labor, lungs or heart disease or multiple pregnancies should completely avoid doing swimming or consult with midwife or doctor for advice.