Whenever I hear about a friend of mine falling pregnant, I excitedly always count the days and try work out when will the little one be joining us… Winter? Summer? Not because I have a preference, but purely to see if my (now glowing) friend will be carrying heaviest through our beautiful warm summers or the cold nippy winter…
I was heaviest with Kyra, my beautiful daughter, through the peak of an extremely hot summer and spent many an evening sleeping in the nice cool garden. But there is no better feeling than relaxing in water and feeling the amazing sense of weightlessness during those heavy and sometimes hot days of pregnancy. If I had it my way, I would’ve slept in the water during my pregnancy, especially through those last few weeks when you think your bump can’t possibly get any heavier!
Swimming is the perfect exercise for when you are pregnant, not only as a treat for yourself, but also your unborn baby. Remember as they get hot they tend to push away from your body, so feeling the sensation of the water is both soothing and of course cooling. Swimming is a great aerobic exercise and at the same time gentle on your limbs, ligaments and joints, as there is less gravity to deal with. Any type of light aerobic exercise will gently increase your heart rate and encourage the body to use its oxygen and push it around your body which is vital for you and your baby. You will be giving your ever changing, ever growing body a chance to burn calories, improve circulation, build strength and indurance. This will in turn help with a good nights’ sleep (yay!) and give you more energy to enjoy this exciting time of your life, whilst also help in mentally and physically preparing you and your body for the birth of your little swimmer.
If you have time for a swim before you set off for work or get into your daily chores, a good half an hour a day of swimming will help keep the morning sickness at bay. This is also a great chance for some ‘me’ time.
Swimming is by far one of the safest exercises an Expectant Mom (and Dad – if he is keen to join you in the water!) can enjoy during all stages of pregnancy, but please, if you are at all unsure, before hopping into your closest pool check with your doctor or gynea first, its always a good idea to keep on top of things as far as your health goes before, during and after your pregnancy. In general, if you swam regularly before you fell pregnant, it should all be ‘good in the hood’ or ‘cool by the pool’ to keep swimming as your body knows the deal. However, if you didn’t swim or exercise at all, perhaps get some health advice first.
You don’t need to be a Chad le Clos to keep yourself and baby fit and healthy, but do keep in mind that the best stroke to swim whilst pregnant is breaststroke. Breaststroke requires no rotation of the torso and is also an easier stroke to swim as it uses the bodies bouyancy to stay afloat. It lengthens the chest muscles and shortens the back muscles, the two areas which often misalign during pregnancy. Perhaps try using a snorkel as it will relieve the tension on your neck caused by lifting you head out the water to breathe.
Backstroke is a good stroke as it allows you to relax in the water and gently make your way across the pool. It is also a great way to show everyone your beautiful bump. To make things a little more intersting, why not alternate between breastroke and a gentle backstroke.
After a good half an hour of gentle laps, try floating on your back. This is one of the most relaxing things to do in the water so remember to keep your head back, ears in the water, look up and spread your arms and legs, like “Mish the Starfish”. This will help keep you afloat as it spreads your body weight across the water. We will use the same technique to teach your little swimmer to float on their own.
As with all exercise, make sure you gently warm up, warm down and lightly stretch before you hop in the pool. Wear a comfortable cozzie which has room for a growing belly, the last thing you want is to squeeze into last season’s skimpy bikini… There are some beautiful maternity cozzies out there, a fantastic reason for a bit of retail therapy!
Always take along your water bottle to the poolside for sips in between.
I hope this will inspire you to hop into your closest pool and get wet… not only are there definite health benefits, but it will allow you to enjoy the miracle of pregnancy from a different angle… Enjoy and I look forward to ‘Sharing the Joy of Swimming’ with you, your baby, and all your new found ‘preggie’ friends… yeah baby… Swim Baby Swim