Swimming in pregnancy

1. Is swimming during pregnancy safe?

  • Yes, swimming is regarded by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists as one of the safest exercises during pregnancy;
  • In a Danish cohort study, compared with non-exercisers, women who swam in early/mid-pregnancy had a slightly lower risk of preterm birth but no difference in fetal growth measures or incidence of small-for-gestational-age;
  • In another study, fetal movements and heart rates were shown by underwater ultrasound to remain normal during immersion and exercise in the water at 15, 25 and 35 weeks of gestation. There was no induced uterine activity either;
  • While there is concern of infection by water-borne pathogens and exposure to water disinfection byproducts in the swimming pools, cohort studies fail to find any association between swimming in the pools and birth defects

2. Benefits of swimming?

  • An aerobic exercise that develops cardiovascular endurance and limb mobility;
  • The buoyancy in water helps alleviate the load on the spine and knee joints;
  • No worries about poor balancing and fall during exercise;
  • In a randomized trial involving 516 healthy pregnant women, unsupervised water exercise twice per week for 12 weeks was associated with less low back pain

3. Precautionary measures for swimming in pregnancy

  • Be aware of accidental kicks to the tummy by other swimmers, especially when swimming in a crowded pool;
  • Be aware of the slippery floor around the pool and in the changing room;
  • Select swimsuits designed for pregnant women to accommodate the change in body size
This article is contributed by Dr. T.N. Danny Leung
Updated on 25.09.2020