Physicians recommend at least half an hour of light stretching and exercise per day during pregnancy. Finding the right exercise to fulfill this recommendation is sometimes challenging because many are too aggressive (i.e. running).
For some women, any movement in the second and third trimesters is laborious. Already, they experience soreness in their joints and muscles. Plus, carrying a child makes everything more strenuous—that is, outside of the water. With swimming, these pains go away because the water helps support the extra weight. It is a low-impact exercise, making it safe for all stages of pregnancy.
What Makes Swimming the Best Form of Fitness during Pregnancy?
Swimming recruits muscles from all over the body. It helps women lose weight, build strength, improve endurance and promote overall good health. In fact, women who swim fight the fatigue and sleeplessness that sets in during pregnancy. This is because swelling dissipates in the water.
While submerged, fluids transfer more efficiently from tissues to the veins, relieving tension in the joints. Consequently, blood circulation allows improves.
Water also negates the pull of gravity. During pregnancy, many women feel sciatic pain from the baby’s downward-pushing weight. Floating offers some relief—even if temporary. The cool temperature of a pool itself is therapeutic for such aches and pains. It can even fend off morning sickness.
Although tempting, it’s best not to dive underwater while pregnant. The baby needs oxygen and depriving it for even short periods can have consequences.
The Debate over Chlorine and Pregnancy Safety
A 2013 study featured in the Daily Mail warns women that exposure to chlorine can increase the likelihood of allergies in newborns. Since its publication, other physicians have spoken out against the research, arguing chlorine is a strong disinfectant that makes swimming particularly safe for women. However, most agree that swimming in lakes and other open bodies of water can increase the chance of infection.
So long as the proper precautions are taken and you consult your physician, swimming is a perfectly safe and healthful activity that many pregnant women can incorporate into their fitness regimes.