The summer is here and so is the hot weather! Perfect time to work out in water, especially if you are pregnant and looking for a “cool” workout. Working out in the water during pregnancy doesn’t only feel amazing, it also has some great benefits for both mom and baby. Since water training is non-weight-bearing and low-impact, it is a great option for maternal fitness. Working out and being able to work out with good form in water also activates and stabilizes the core and hip region. There are many ways to move in the water, so be creative and have fun!
Benefits of working out in the water while pregnant and after pregnancy may be
- Reducing fluid retention and increasing circulation
- Improving physical health and mental wellbeing
- Reducing back pain
- Improving pelvic floor awareness
- Improving core stability
- Helping prepare for labor
- Improving breath awareness and control
Swimming in any form is great! It’s easy on the joints and it’s a full-body workout. Freestyle, breaststroke, and backstroke are some great options. Even using a kickboard to work the legs is a great option. Mix up the different strokes and the intensity with intervals to make the workout a fun and moderate effort. One of my favorite workouts is doing the “ladder interval” with a little harder effort each time. For example, 25 meters + 50 meters + 75 meters + 100 meters and then back again, 100 meters + 75 meters + 50 meters + 25 meters in any swim stroke.
STRONGMom Aqua is a pre/postnatal water exercise class founded by Coach Tilda, the co-founder of STRONGMom App. The class is specifically designed for expectant mothers and postpartum. The focuses in the class are core stability, especially deep core activation, low impact cardio, muscle conditioning, and flexibility. We end the class with deep-breathing techniques, relaxation, and stretching. The exercises are carefully selected for all stages of the pregnancy. If you attend a water fitness class at your local pool, make sure you communicate with the instructor and let them know you are pregnant and what week you are in so modifications can be made if needed.
Another great way to work out in the water is water walking. The support that the water creates can help you feel safe and confident. That being said, water also creates resistance and a current which will make the workout more challenging. To balance in water, activate the core muscles gently (without holding your breath or holding your abdominal muscles too
tightly), and breathe comfortably. I recommend water shoes for support and cushioning, but also to reduce the risk of slipping on the bottom of the pool. Swing the arms by the sides to get some extra upper body strength.
Aqua Zumba is a fun, energetic dance class in water. The class has typical land-based Zumba steps such as cha-cha, salsa, and mambo to mention a few. The movements are more exaggerated and slower than the land moves, so the water tempo is half the land tempo. You move the whole body and perform lots of lateral movement, hip circling, and other dance moves to fun music. The instructors are usually certified Aqua Zumba instructors and change the routine every quarter.
- Now they have great waterproof music players that you can use while swimming or working out in the water.
- Wear a well-supported swimsuit or bikini.
- Use sunscreen if you are using an outdoor pool.
- Hydrate! Drink before, during, and after the workout.
- Avoid sitting in the hot tub and getting too hot.
- Scuba diving is not recommended during pregnancy.
After Pregnancy: Postpartum
Working out in the pool after pregnancy has a lot of benefits, but there are a few things that need to be considered before heading back to the pool. Cesarean surgery or episiotomy need to be observed before engaging in water exercises. The incision should be clean and dry to avoid infections and complications. Even vaginal discharge and bleeding frequence and flow rate should be monitored. Internal products to absorb bleeding are usually not recommended until 4-6 weeks after labor.
After you are cleared to get in the pool you can enjoy a workout in the water. Pelvic floor exercises and abdominal strengthening are great and safe to do in water. If diastasis recti is present there are many safe exercises that can be done even in the early stage of postpartum. Even cardio in water, in any form, is recommended since it’s low-impact and easy on the joints. There are still a lot of hormones circulating in the body that will loosen the ligaments and joints, so the water will support the body.