The health benefits of swimming are extensively documented for individuals of all shapes, abilities, and ages. But what about pregnancy? What impact can swimming during pregnancy have on the health and well-being of mother and baby?
Health Benefits of Swimming
Let’s review. There are countless studies outlining the many ways swimming has a positive impact on your health. Here are just a few, among many.
- Improves cardio function without the stress of impact sports.
- Helps maintain a healthy weight.
- Improves endurance.
- Increases quality of sleep.
- Tones muscle and builds strength.
- Alleviates stress and can help in reducing depression and anxiety.
Exercise, and swimming, in particular, can help to reduce depression, anxiety, and psychological distress. It stands to reason, then, that swimming has significant potential to help with these very real pregnancy-related symptoms.
Swimming in particular is recommended as one of the best exercise modalities for pregnant women. It is a safe, joy-inducing, easy to perform, moderate form of activity. Swimming is easy on rapidly spreading tendons and ligaments, provides buoyancy and relief from back, ankle, and joint pain, and can provide a cooling, calming effect in easily overheated mamas to be. In fact, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, swimming is one of the safest exercises to do during pregnancy.
And studies have shown that compared with women who don’t exercise, pregnant women swimming throughout early and mid-pregnancy had a slightly lower risk of preterm birth as well as other negative pregnancy outcomes.
If chlorine and chemicals are your concern, rest easy knowing that the above study also noted that swimming in chlorine had no adverse effects on the unborn child. (It’s important to note here that they are not including certain aquatic sports here, including diving, scuba diving, and waterskiing, due to increased risk of injury.)
As with any form of exercise during pregnancy, check with your doctor before trying anything new. Stop exercising immediately if you become overheated, nauseous, experience abnormal vaginal discharge or bleeding, or any abdominal pain.
As an expecting mother, especially if it’s your first, the world can feel scary and dangerous with a long list of don’ts flying at you from every direction. At least in this, be assured that swimming is one of the best choices you can make for you and your unborn child.
Molly is a member of our creative team, mom of four water-loving babies, and a fierce advocate for CPR training and really early swim instruction.