Last weekend Hubs and I look our youngest to the pool. I was ashamed to realise how long it’s been since we took him…it was only the second time we’ve been this year, lets put it that way!
It’s funny the difference between my two boys. The teenager is a competitive swimmer and at his brother’s age was already competent and fearless in the water. But the four year old point blank refuses to do much more than walk around the splash pool. And it isn’t because he doesn’t go often enough, as my parents take him most weeks and he did a block of lessons with the nursery at the end of last year. But despite seeing some of his friends swimming, and us pleading with him, he would only hold on to the side and kick his legs just long enough to prove he could do it. I don’t know if it’s fear or stubbornness, but I’m hoping the next block of lessons he’s about to start will build his confidence. He’s going to look a little silly if he’s still hanging out in the baby pool by the time puberty hits!
I was just happy to be in the water. Well, I say happy…as happy as I could manage whilst wearing the world’s most unflattering item of clothing. Me and swimsuits haven’t ever got on, but my maternity swimsuit is beyond disgusting. It’s a throwback to my first pregnancy, so at over 15 years old it’s the oldest item in my wardrobe. Quite frankly it makes me look like a bunch of deflating beach balls shoved into a shapeless sack, but I’ve had such a drama with maternity clothes as it is that I didn’t have the energy (or budget) to add swimwear to the shitstorm. Mind you, I regretted that decision as soon as I was faced with the walk of shame between the changing room and pool, and even more so when I had to make the walk back to the splash pool after swimming lengths to find Hubs had struck up conversation with a skinny mum in a bikini…
Hurt pride aside, it was good to be swimming again. I’ve always loved swimming – it was the only sport I would bother with as a kid, and I was always pretty good at it. As an adult I’ve not been able to make regular time to get to the pool, but I always make sure I do a few lengths whenever we do take the kids. I did the Great Scottish Swim in Loch Lomond a few years ago where I found a love of open water swimming too (and a wetsuit is so much more flattering than most cozzies!).
I’ve always made a point of swimming in my pregnancies, even in my first where I was obese and vastly out of shape. Especially at the end of pregnancy, when maternity leave kicks in and I’ve had a little bit of time for myself before my new baby arrives, I’ve been known to swim numerous times a week. No wonder I’m planning a pool birth this time around!
Why I love swimming in pregnancy
- I find there’s something about the support water gives my pregnant body that makes me feel normal and human again. Suddenly I don’t feel so heavy, and I get my freedom of movement back.
- Being in the water also helps to give me a break from any aches and pains – they just melt away.
- It’s also great for helping to avoid collecting more of those aches and pains, as it’s a low impact form of exercise.
- I find it quiets my mind – once I get into the rhythm of movement and breath it’s almost like meditating.
- I always think it prepares me for birth too – building stamina to get me through labour, and reminding me how to control and focus my breathing.
- I’ve been able to keep swimming right up until my due date before, which isn’t always possible with many other forms of exercise.
Keeping safe whilst swimming
I’m not an expert, and of course you should always check with your midwife if you are unsure whether swimming is for you, but I have picked up a few helpful tips to make sure I’m safe in the pool when pregnant:
- Bring a bottle of water. I drink tons when I’m doing any sort of exercise, but it can be easy to forget about dehydration when you’re soaking wet!
- Be mindful of overheating. This is something we are warned about when pregnant, but it’s harder to assess when you feel as if the water is keeping you cool. Don’t over exert yourself.
- Breaststroke is probably the best stroke to use. It’s good for your back as you don’t twist as much as you would in front crawl. It also avoids you being on your back, which even in the supportive environment of water can still put pressure on vital blood vessels. Just be mindful if you suffer SPD, as the leg movement may not be the best option. In my last pregnancy I switched to a more crawl-style of kick, or focused on using mainly my upper body.
- Use flip flops or at least hold on to hand rails when walking around the pool area. A slip or fall is never nice, but in pregnancy you need to be extra careful.
I’m getting a bit too tired come the end of the day to make it to my weekly Clubbercise class, so I’m thinking now is the time to add swimming into my fitness plan. I wish more than anything there were Aquanatal classes near me, as I think they’d be a great thing to get into, but I’m happy enough churning out the lengths. Even in my nasty swimsuit.