After procrastination of epic proportions (yes, I did originally purchase my maternity tankini in January) I finally made it to my local swimming pool. My previous excuse for not going had been that I didn’t want to walk fifteen minutes with wet hair in the freezing conditions. With temperatures becoming almost tropical, this no longer washed!
I had also been nervous about swimming for various other reasons:
- The pool might be crowded and someone could kick my bump.
- You can pick up nasty things at a swimming pool such as verrucas, and I can’t reach my feet so well these days.
- Swallowing pool water can be dangerous while pregnant.
- I might slip on the wet floor around the pool.
- I’m likely to embarrass myself by busting out of my bathing suit.
Not the first pregnant woman/manatee comparison…
I’m pleased to report that none of the above happened, and overall it was a very positive experience. The pool turned out to be huge, with plenty of space for lane swimming, splashing children and spare space at the deep end which I paddled around in, joined only by a young boy being given a private swimming lesson. Happily, there was no open changing area – only cubicles – so I even avoided looking undignified in public.
The lanes were a bit busy but as soon as I got in I realised I was going to be half the speed of everyone else in the pool, including toddlers and white-haired people, so I decided not to annoy anyone who might be swimming behind me and just do my own thing. I rested every few minutes or so and at the end of the session, sat in the children’s pool and just enjoyed the feeling of being in water. I wouldn’t say I felt completely weightless – I’m sure if I’d stopped swimming I would have sunk to the bottom – but it was a lovely feeling nonetheless and the ache in my calf from a leg cramp the night before disappeared.
Swimming is generally considered a good pregnancy exercise. The benefits of swimming include helping with swelling and fluid retention related to pregnancy, and improving circulation. This is in addition to all the usual benefits of exercise such as increasing muscle strength and burning calories. Babycentre agrees that swimming is “one of the best forms of exercise you can undertake during your pregnancy.”
However, it’s not for everyone, and it’s worth checking with your doctor beforehand if you have pelvic pain or low iron levels – a full list of caveats can be found here.
As for my own pregnancy swimming career, I’m looking forward to my next dip and will continue to obey the best NHS advice ever: “exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous to be beneficial”!