Hold the Shamu Jokes: Swimming and Prenatal Aqua-Aerobics for Pregnant Moms
The benefits to mom for exercising while pregnant are well-known, and recently doctors discovered that it may benefit baby too – as well as giving mom’s heart a workout, baby’s heart also learns how to pump more efficiently.
There were many days during my nine months when I felt like a lump and wanted to stay in bed. But getting up, and going something active always felt good, once I was actually doing it. And my favorite thing to do was to get in the swimming pool.
Now, I have to pause and let you know that your boyfriend or husband thinks it’s in his contract to make whale jokes at the mention of swimming. You can consider yourself at liberty to bash him with a pool noodle or enquire what his excuse for not having a flat stomach is.
There’s also the tricky issue of maternity swimwear. You can wear your pre-pregnancy bikini and let the bump hang out, or buy a maternity swimsuit. For the best fit and bump coverage, I recommend the two-piece tankini style, as one-piece ones just don’t fit properly. I brought a black, halterneck Liz Lange for Target swimsuit that lasted happily through six months of swimming every other day.
Being in the water feels wonderful. I can’t even begin to describe how wonderful. Gravity seems to disappear as the water supports the bump. You’ll feel like you aren’t pregnant. It’s great for aches and pains, even if it only lasts while you are actually in the water.
Swimming is practically zero-impact, and you can go at the level that suits you. Almost everything goes – no diving of course, but otherwise pregnant women can swim just like non-pregnant women.
Aqua Aerobics is fun if you need a bit of motivation, or company, or both. Many community centers have aqua-aerobics classes and most pregnant women can join in with a regular class. Signing up for a session of classes is good motivation if there’s specific times you know you have a class. The class I took was at a newly-built swimming pool and for some reason, their new sprinkler system couldn’t be configured properly. A firetruck full of hot firemen seemed to arrive to tinker with it every week, a nice bonus!
Always consult your doctor or obstetrician before starting any exercise program. Exercising is safe for most pregnant women, but if you have certain medical conditions, then exercise may be harmful to you or your baby. Your doctor should be able to give you guidelines of what types of, and how much, exercise will be appropriate for you.