The Hidden Dangers of Swimming for Pregnancy Fitness

When you talk about safe pregnancy exercise, swimming and pregnancy tend to go hand in hand like peanut butter and jelly. In fact, swimming for pregnancy fitness is recommended by practically everyone in your professional care team and for good reason.
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Swimming during pregnancy has several benefits for your pregnant body that you won’t get from any other form of pregnancy exercise.


One of the reasons that swimming is recommended as a great form of pregnancy exercise is that it is very hard to injure yourself. The buoyancy of the water creates a near weightless environment, which provides a safe place for you to work out large muscle groups and the cardiovascular system.


Swimming during pregnancy also increases maternal aerobic capacity, which in plain English, means that your body will be able to transport oxygen more effectively to working muscles, increasing their performance and giving you better results from your pregnancy workout.


A lot of women also find swimming during pregnancy provides them with a sense of well-being as well as relieving morning sickness.


But there are a few things you need to know before you go diving in the pool that your professional care team won’t tell you.

Breast Isn’t Always Best
The breaststroke is commonly thought of as the best stroke for pregnancy by a lot of people, as it is the gentlest of the swimming strokes. It also encourages good alignment in the torso as it works the chest while encouraging you to pull back your shoulders.


However, if you do the breaststroke properly, you will notice that as you lift your head to come out of the water and breathe, you create an overly extended arch in your lower back.


Now, considering the lower back is already under a lot of pressure from your pregnancy posture, the last thing you want to do is add to this and wind up with pregnancy back pain. Breaststroke legs are not suitable for pregnancy. During your pregnancy your pelvic ligaments become very soft and the joints can be easily overstretched by the breaststroke kick. The pubic joint at the front may begin to separate in preparation for birth and injury can lead to Pubis Symphysis Disorder and Round Ligament Pain.

Back Stroke
Swimming on your back for any length of time after sxiteen weeks could prove to be very uncomfortable as the weight of the uterus puts pressure on the vena cava. If you do experience any discomfort you should avoid this stroke completely.

Acid Indigestion and Reflux
It is best not to eat anything for two hours prior to swimming to avoid acid indigestion and gastric reflux, especially in the third trimester. Tumble turns will also aggravate this. 


Choose a Chemical-Free Pool Where Possible
There has been some recent press about the dangers of uptake of chloroform by pregnant women swimming in chlorinated pools. In tests, pools were found to have “relatively high” levels of the disinfectant by-products which have been linked to reproductive problems. A one-hour swim was found to give a chloroform dose 141 times higher than a 10-minute shower.


However, further research needs to be done on this, and until a wide-scale population study has been conducted, this is not conclusive evidence against the use of chlorinated pools by pregnant women.


How to have a great, safe pregnancy swim workout:


  • Choose a stroke that won’t put pressure on your pregnant body. Front crawl is great for a higher intensity pregnancy workout.
  • If you need a resting stroke for intervals try using a snorkel with breast stroke arms so that you don’t have to keep bobbing your head out of the water and putting pressure on your lower back, while using front crawl legs to propel you.
  • Have a light snack a couple of hours before you enter the pool.
  • If you have access to a chemical-free pool in your area, use it.
  • Always shower and wash your hair immediately after leaving the pool to reduce uptake of chemicals into your bloodstream.

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