A Guide to Swimming While Pregnant

A Guide to Swimming While Pregnant

You may have heard by now that swimming while pregnant is one of the best kinds of exercise you can do.

Swimming works almost every muscle in your body, seemingly has no negative impacts on your joints, and it doesn’t require expensive equipment.

Even better, at a time when you might be feeling bigger every day, swimming lets you experience a few minutes of weightless resistance every time you slip into the water.

So, for questions on temperature, chemicals, and how to get started if it’s been a while, here’s our complete guide to swimming while pregnant. Enjoy!

In this article: 📝

  • Is it OK to swim while pregnant?
  • Things to be aware of when swimming during pregnancy
  • Is swimming in chlorine safe while pregnant?
  • Can swimming cause miscarriage?
  • Does swimming help induce labor?
  • How to start swimming while pregnant
  • And finally, some other water options…

Is it OK to swim while pregnant?

For most women, it’s completely safe to go swimming while pregnant.

And not only is it safe (and fun), there are lots of good reasons to make that splash at your local swimming spot:

1. It’s low-impact

Swimming is what’s known as a low-impact exercise.

The water supports your body, which means that there’s no strain on your joints.

This is important during pregnancy because your joints are generally easier to injure.

You can thank the hormone relaxin for this, which lets your ligaments stretch to accommodate your growing belly, for that.

2. It’s a full-body workout

Swimming works your whole body: Arms, legs, abs, shoulders, everything.

Maybe do some stretching after?

3. It reduces swelling

Swimming has been shown to reduce pregnancy swelling and water retention.

There are two reasons for this. First, the ‘weightlessness’ you feel when you’re in the water helps the excess fluid in your feet and ankles to drain.

Second, exercise boosts your circulation to get rid of the fluid once and for all.

4. It eases pregnancy aches and pains

Ever wondered what happens to baby when you’re swimming while pregnant?

Because your baby is ‘floating’ too, the buoyancy takes the pressure off your baby bump and lower back so they’re not pressing down on the nerves in your back or the ligaments in your pelvis.

Goodbye, sciatica and pelvic pain (at least temporarily)!

5. It can make pregnancy sickness more bearable

This is according to some mamas-to-be.

It might be the cool water. It might be because you’re regulating your breathing with each stroke.

It might be the calming effect of being in water. Whatever the reason, we’ll take it.

Even a short break from pregnancy nausea is welcome.

6. It’s great whatever the weather

We’re talking about indoor swimming here. If it’s too hot to think about a power walk, or too windy for a bike ride, you know that you’ll still be able to head to your local pool for a workout.

Things to be aware of when swimming during pregnancy

While it is usually safe to swim during pregnancy, there are times when you might want to be cautious.

Open-water swimming

If you’re swimming in open water rather than in a pool, it’s good to do your research on the water quality.

Some smaller bodies of water can have high levels of bacteria.

During pregnancy, your immune system is a little lower than usual, so it’s good to take extra precautions to protect yourself.

It’s also likely that you’ll become tired more quickly than before you were pregnant. So don’t go too far from shore, and be more aware of tides and currents.

Water temperature

A normal pool is somewhere between 80 and 91°F (27-33°C), which isn’t really going to impact your core temperature while you exercise.

Hot tubs, on the other hand, are usually off the cards during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester when your little peanut is most sensitive to changes in your core temperature.

But what about swimming in cold water when pregnant? If you have a proper wetsuit, gloves, and shoes, you’ll find it easier to stay in cold water.

But the big concern is that the cold water constricts your blood vessels, which can lead to your baby getting slightly less oxygen while you’re in the water.

It’s tough to conduct an official study on this because there are so many variables, but it might be best to stick to the pool or only swim in open water in the summer while you’re pregnant.

Is swimming in chlorine safe while pregnant?

Chlorine is added to pools to keep them clean. It’s the reason that you don’t have to be as concerned about the water quality in public pools as when wild swimming.

And if a pool is chlorinated, you know that they’ll be checking the balance of chemicals and bacteria levels regularly.

If you’re swimming while pregnant, chlorine shouldn’t be too much of a concern.

There’s no evidence to suggest that the levels of chlorine in pools will harm your little one.

Can swimming cause miscarriage?

No. There’s nothing in the exercise itself that could lead to pregnancy loss.

Where people have voiced concerns, it’s usually in relation to the chemicals in the water.

But as we’ve already said, if the pool is properly maintained, this risk is very minimal.

Does swimming help induce labor?

For those looking for ways to get labor going naturally, a long walk is usually near the top of the list of things to try.

So what about a long swim?

There doesn’t officially seem to be a link between swimming and labor, but it’s definitely a calming way to prepare to meet your baby.

How to start swimming while pregnant

If you haven’t swum in ages, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t start swimming during pregnancy, as long as you’re confident enough to enjoy being in a pool.

Just mention it to your doctor, in case they have any advice for your specific circumstances, and take things nice and slow.

Here are some more of our top tips:

  • Find a maternity swimsuit you’re comfortable in.
  • Be a little extra careful at the poolside. It’s usually slippery, and you’re more likely to lose your balance if your baby bump is throwing off your center of gravity.
  • Step into the water rather than diving in. Diving is still classed as a high-impact exercise.
  • Take a bottle of water with you. You might not notice, but you sweat a lot while you’re swimming, and you can still get dehydrated.
  • Start with 20 minutes, and then work up when you feel ready.
  • Stop if it hurts or if you get too out of breath.
  • Bring a snack for when you’re done. Swimming always makes you hungry.

And finally, some other water options…

If you like the idea of being in the water, but swimming lengths isn’t your thing, we’d also recommend finding a pool exercise class, maybe even one specifically for pregnant women.

It’s a great workout and a fun way to meet other mamas-to-be — and connecting with other mamas-to-be is what we love most.


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