How to Swim During Pregnancy

How to Swim During Pregnancy

Swimming while pregnant is beneficial as it helps to improve circulation, build cardiovascular endurance and increase muscle tone and strength in the latissimus dorsi, deltoids, glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps. Plus, it doesn't put any stress on your ligaments or joints. It’s safe to swim throughout all three trimesters of pregnancy but there are some suggestions specific to each trimester that will make your workouts more comfortable and safe.

First Trimester
Throughout the first trimester, schedule your workouts early in the day since swimming can help counteract morning sickness. Start with a circuit consisting of water walking, cross-country skiing and floating abs. To perform water walking, walk the width of the shallow end while swinging your arms. For cross-country skiing, push off the floor of the pool and scissor your legs forward and back as you simultaneously swing your arms opposite to your legs. To perform floating abs, wrap a floating noodle around your back and under your arms. Recline back onto the noodle but keep your feet on the pool's floor. Inhale and contract your abs and thighs as you let your legs drift up to the pool's surface. Hold the top position a moment and then push your legs back down. Complete each exercise five times, and after every week, add three to five minutes of lap swimming to gradually build endurance. If the circuit is too easy, challenge yourself by swimming 30 minutes each day. Throughout the first trimester, all strokes and water exercises are appropriate.

Second Trimester
If you swam consistently in the first trimester, you have endurance for longer workouts in the second trimester. Begin with a five to 10-minute warmup of squats, knee-ups and butt kicks in the shallow end; a lap of flutter kicks; and 30 to 60 seconds of treading water. Then, swim continuous laps for 30 minutes. You can select your favorite stroke or use a mix of strokes in your workout. The breaststroke is beneficial during pregnancy because it promotes better posture and builds strength in the back while stretching out the chest. If you feel more buoyant because of the slight increase in size, the backstroke may be more comfortable because it puts your belly outside the water.

Third Trimester
Continue your swimming workouts throughout the end of your pregnancy. After the warmup, perform 30 to 40 minutes of moderate-intensity lap swimming. The breaststroke is again ideal as the stroke's effect on the chest and back muscles helps prevent posture alignment problems that can pop up toward the end of pregnancy. However, you're welcome to also do the freestyle and butterfly strokes. You can relieve the pressure on your neck from having to bob up and down by wearing a snorkel. Avoid the backstroke in the third trimester, however, because lying on your back can put pressure on the main blood vessels in your abs.

Precautions of Swimming While Pregnant
Swimming burns calories and causes you to lose water from sweat, so monitor your food and fluid intake to ensure you're getting enough nutrients and fluids. If you’re swimming for more than 30 minutes, make an effort to drink more fluids. Take precautions not to overexert yourself by keeping your heart rate within 120 to 140 beats per minute. If you’re swimming and experience an irregular heart beat or feel light-headed or dizzy, stop swimming and consult your doctor.