When you’re bearing a little yet heavy human inside your womb, the last thing you may want to do is exercise. All mothers can relate – if walking while carrying extra pounds is a struggle, just imagine how difficult it would be to workout. With this, it would be a great treat for expecting mothers if they could exercise while weighing just a tenth of what they do on land.
And if there’s a safe means of exercising for expecting mothers, that would be swimming. The buoyancy of the water partially supports the weight, decreases the burden on your spine and limbs, and allows you to exercise weightlessly despite the extra pounds of pregnancy.
Aside from working your muscles, improving the heart health of you and your baby and boosting your mood, here are some ways swimming can benefit pregnant women.
1. Swimming eases the pain in the back
We call it the sciatic pain or “sciatica”, the throbbing aches or numbness in the sciatic nerve (which starts in the lower back, to the buttocks, and radiates down the back of the legs). Women experience this tingling sensation during pregnancy, which is, fortunately, a short-term condition.
When you swim, your baby is floating right along with you and not pressing down on your sciatic nerve, which prevents increased strain and pain.
2. It alleviates edema or swelling (in hands, arms, ankles, and feet)
Swelling occurs when the body fluids increase to nurture both you and your baby. These fluids pool up in your tissues as a result of the increased blood flow and tension of your expanding uterus. While it’s pretty normal, puffy limbs can be unsightly.
Immersing yourself in water and moving your limbs can help push fluids from your tissues back into your veins, which then go to your kidneys and out through urine. Swimming can also boost your blood circulation, which prevents blood from accumulating in your lower limbs.
3. It helps keep your cool
When you’re pregnant, you tend to be extra sweaty and irritable especially in the first trimester, third trimester, and postpartum. Extreme pregnancy hormonal swings are to blame for this. The hormonal shifts is a natural response when the hypothalamus (which regulates body temperature) gets confused, perceives heat even if it’s cold, and triggers your body’s sweating reflex.
A quick dip in a pool can help you keep your cool, which is a hard thing to do when you’re trying to win over your raging pregnancy hormones.
4. It may help fight morning sickness
Morning sickness is a temporary side effect of pregnancy that is often caused by hormone levels, first-time pregnancy status, sensitivity, stress and fatigue, and even genetics. According to BabyCenter, an online resource for medically reviewed information about pregnancy and parenting, swimming first thing in the morning may help you prevent your morning sickness or nausea, and keep you energized throughout the day.
Whatever the reason, whether it’s a physiological response to the sense of relaxation the water brings or the health benefits provided by the exercise, there’s something about swimming that makes a lot of pregnant women feel a lot better.
5. It helps maintain your shape
Well, of course, you can never go back to your hourglass figure while you’re pregnant but swimming can help by keeping your weight within a healthy range.
Try to swim for 20 to 30 minutes on most days of the week. If you didn’t have the habit of exercising before pregnancy, it would always be better to start slowly and stretch well for warm-ups and cool-downs.
6. Swimming mothers may also have a better delivery experience
Swimming provides a full-body workout which works and tones all your muscle groups, builds strength and power, increases your endurance and recovery capability, improves your circulation, and boosts your body’s capacity to use oxygen. You’ll be thankful for these when the “big day” comes as these amazing body changes can help you push your baby out more efficiently.
Some safety tips:
Step or slide into the pool carefully
Don’t dive or hold your breath
Avoid hot tubs
Keep yourself hydrated
Stick to properly-chlorinated pools
Important: Always consult a physician first before starting a swim workout
What to wear:
Wear comfortable swimwears. If you find your belly too big for one-piece swimwears and you’re also not confident flaunting it with two-piece suits, you can opt for a tankini or maternity swimwears. Also, don’t forget to wear goggles and swim caps to protect your hair and eyes from harsh pool chemicals.
Despite her busy daily routine, Carmina Natividad still manages to find time for a little self-pampering. Aside from hitting the pool during the weekends, she also finds interest in writing articles focused on health and wellness. She is now one of the writers for Swimprint, a go-to shop for swimming enthusiasts in the UK.
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