What do you know about swimming during pregnancy? Is it just doing normal swimming or is there more to it? Have you ever wondered why gynaecologists recommend swimming as the preferred form of prenatal exercise? After all, how is swimming beneficial during pregnancy? What strokes should you use? Why do some prenatal moms experience backache and pelvic pain after swimming?

During pregnancy, exercise helps to:
• reduce aches resulting from standing or sitting for too long
• strengthen pelvic muscles and open the pelvis further
• improve balance and stability
• encourage deeper and wider diaphragm movement which allows efficient gas exchange; conversely it prevents tightness of the chest and out of breath situations which are very common during pregnancy.

Swimming is a highly beneficial exercise during pregnancy due to:

• the breath work involved when in the water, which develops better gas exchange in the lungs through diaphragmatic breathing;
• the reduced strain on joints and muscles as the body is buoyed by the water.

Water – an ideal medium of support
During pregnancy, the body is starting to adapt to the increase in weight, changes in centre of gravity, looser joints and ligaments, and changes in body posture alignment. The prenatal mom starts to feel heavy and unstable.

Water helps to counteract the negative impact of these changes as it makes the prenatal mom feel lighter, facilitates body movement with greater fluidity, and alleviates the strain on muscles and ligaments. Water is the ideal medium of natural support.

Strokes – the ideal method
Most of us have learned to swim using various swim strokes. Some prefer freestyle, others, breaststroke. It all really depends on what we are comfortable with.
Many prenatal moms prefer to swim with their head above the water as it seems to be comforting to be able to breathe continuously. Thus breaststroke is typically employed. But after some time, prenatal moms experience backache and pelvic pain with this stroke. Switching to another stroke like backstroke may appear to address the issue albeit temporarily. Before long, the aches and pain start to creep back.

The solution is not in the stroke used but rather the support needed.
As pregnancy progresses, more space is needed for the growing baby. The lumbar region (lower back) is shortened thus creating more pressure on the sacrum and pelvic area. This combined with hormonal changes that soften and loosen ligaments and joints in the pelvis means aches and pains are inevitable whenever strain is applied.

Thus to enjoy better results through swimming, the prenatal mom needs to ensure there’s sufficient support to maintain her body alignment in the water without straining or adding more pressure on the joints and muscles. A swimming board or noodle is the best solution.

Water – an ideal medium of comfort

Swimming is not the only form of exercise involving water. Body movements in the water (e.g. aqua pregnancy, watsu) is also a good way to ease any discomfort and does not require any swimming competency.
A shallow heated pool is commonly used to significantly promote the benefit of body movement exercises. The warm water promotes muscle relaxation and stretching, allowing for a wider range of movements while reducing strain. It relaxes both body and mind.

Prenatal moms commonly lament of troubled sleep brought about the stress of pregnancy. This in turn causes a lack of quality sleep resulting in further exhaustion. Prenatal moms will be delighted to note that the relaxing effect of exercises in warm water increases the chance of better deep sleep. Now that is a comforting thought.

How Inspire Mum & Baby can help you in your water comfort:
Inspire Mum & Baby is the ONLY holistic centre in Singapore to provide the widest range of services needed for pregnancy to birth.

  1. Aqua Pregnancy: Our most popular prenatal exercise class promotes a gentle flow of movements in the water encouraging relaxation, exercises and connection with the womb bringing the mind and body to a restoration from all the aches and discomfort promoting a better health to prepare for birth.
  2. WATSU for Pregnancy (Aqua Therapy): The only certified local Watsu Practitioner in Singapore, we provide a gentle yet effective aqua therapy to connect the mind and body, encouraging deep relaxation. This is very useful for prenatal moms who have insomnia, depression, tightness of the body due to psychological stress and tension or just a prenatal mom wanting to have a “massage” in a warm pool. It also assist in encouraging the body to “open up” and “letting go” to promote the birth. Sometimes, closer to the due date, prenatal moms started to tense up with uncertainty when the birth began. Watsu for Pregnancy is a very popular therapy for moms closer to labour.
  3. Prenatal Myofascial Release in water: Myofascial release works on the connective tissues, it’s like a deep massage and movements in the water which are all done by the therapist. It helps to reduce pain, release tightened knots and trigger points, encourage mobility movements, ease specific ligament pains and promoting blood flow.
  4. Doula Service for Water Birth: It’s recommended for engaging Doula for water birth. Our doula is a trained birth doula, fitness and aqua practitioner and therapist specialising in prenatal and postpartum mom and young babies. Our doula will assist in preparing the birth couple on water birth, understanding on what to prepare, how it works, positions, birth plan and to plan with the couple based on their wishlist and profile.

The article was written by Linda Tan, Birth & Postpartum Doula, Prenatal Fitness Trainer and swim coach of Inspire Mum & Baby.

Inspire Mum & Baby is a holistic fitness, swimming birth and therapy centre with an indoor pool specialising in prenatal and postnatal care, baby swimming and women wellness. Find them on www.inspiremumbaby.com or www.facebook.com/inspiremum/ or https://www.instagram.com/inspiremum/