Why mums to be should make a splash
Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise that you can do while you are pregnant. It offers a relatively weightless environment, which supports the body and prevents undue strain. It also works the large muscle groups while cardio-vascular fitness provides a sense of well-being.
There have been many fictions developed over the years on the subject of pregnancy and swimming and this can put mums-to-be off making a splash. So let’s put to rest some of the half-truths and rumours that circulate.
Firstly, there is no evidence that active women who swim have more miscarriages or babies with birth defects. Also, swimming is not a cause of premature or problematic labour or low birth-weight babies.
If you are a regular swimmer you can continue with your training programme providing there are no problems at your regular ante-natal checks, such as raised blood pressure, ankle swelling, bleeding, poor foetal growth, diabetes, anaemia etc.
Should these develop during pregnancy, it would be wise to check with your doctor or midwife whether it is advisable to continue to swim.
- With a little common sense there is no reason you shouldn’t enjoy swimming.
Even though swimming is a safe activity for pregnant women there are some sensible guidelines you should follow.
The first is that swimming is not recommended for women with a history of three or more miscarriages, ruptured membranes, early labour, a weak cervix, multiple pregnancies or significant heart or lung disease.
Also, expectant mothers may find tumble turns lead more easily to acid reflux into the mouth due to the rise in pregnancy hormones. This means diving off blocks and belly-flops are best avoided.
Early in pregnancy, all strokes are suitable. In late pregnancy, breaststroke may be beneficial as it promotes good posture and strengthening of the back and chest muscles. Backstroke is probably not such a good idea as the baby may cause pressure on the main blood vessels in the abdomen.
Because of the lack of research in this area, flat out effort is best avoided during pregnancy but you can still enjoy a really good aerobic work out. The pulse rate is normally higher in pregnancy and heart rate can be monitored in the usual way to avoid excessive demands.
If you ever feel light-headed, dizzy, breathless, notice an irregular heart beat, experience lower abdominal pain or uterine contractions, bleed vaginally or lose fluids you should leave the water immediately and seek expert advice.
Remember to eat well as the calorie requirement for the same level of exercise increases in pregnancy. Provided your blood tests are satisfactory and you eat a good well-balanced diet, there should be no need for additional supplementation with iron etc.
If training for more than 30 minutes or so, ensure you drink plenty of fluids supplemented with a little glucose. Your doctor or midwife will be able to advise you where necessary.
Many celebrities have continued to swim during pregnancy, including Penny Lancaster Stewart, who knows "swimming is a pretty safe thing to do".
Actress Natalie Portman also revealed at the 2011 Golden Globe Awards that she'd been staying fit during her pregnancy by swimming every day. She said: "When I am in my womb-like environment, I am hoping the baby is feeling peaceful."
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