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Benefits of Water Exercises for Pregnancy and Labour
Swimming and water aerobics can provide great fitness benefits if you want a safe and low-impact way to exercise, as the water’s buoyancy gently cushions and supports the body while allowing for a good workout. Exercising in water can provide specific benefits for women during pregnancy. These include:
- Providing a low-impact, low-strain workout.
- Promoting muscle-toning, gentle strengthening and flexibility.
- Allowing participants who have back-strain or injuries to get the exercise they need.
- Promoting relaxation and stress-reduction.
- Improving capacity for processing oxygen.
- Promoting fitness while not excessively increasing body temperature.
- Preparing for labour (see more on this below).
Types of water exercise for pregnancy
- Swimming – swimming increases endurance and muscle tone and builds strength. It exercises your lungs and your limbs, and helps burn excess calories making it good for weight-control. Breaststroke is considered to be particularly beneficial when pregnant, as it promotes back and pelvic realignment due to the particular muscle stretches that take place during this activity.
- Aqua-aerobics – these low-impact exercises promote endurance and flexibility and improve fitness without jarring your body in the way land aerobics might.
- Other water exercise – such as ‘running’ or ‘walking’ in the pool can also improve flexibility and fitness while giving you an energy boost.
Water exercise could soothe your labour
A 2008 study published in the Reproductive Health journal indicated that water aerobics may reduce the need for pain relief during labour. Of those who participated in the water exercises, 27% asked for pain relief during labour, compared to 65% of the women in the control group. This may be due to the benefits provided by water exercise such as increased strength, endurance and relaxation.
To stay safe while exercising in water, it’s important to keep hydrated, and to stop if you feel tired, dizzy, unwell, breathless, pain or have any other unsettling symptoms.
The good thing about water exercise is that it is relatively safe to do even if you were fairly inactive before pregnancy. In any case, you should check with your health care practitioner before commencing any exercise program during pregnancy. Do you have a pregnancy exercise regimen? Tell us about it!