If you have recently become pregnant then you’ve probably realized certain things you used to take for granted need to be re-evaluated.
From saying no to deli meat and rare steaks, to skipping activities like scuba diving, skiing and ziplining, some lifestyle changes are easier to navigate than others.
But what about a more gentle activity like swimming in the ocean – is this something you can safely do while expecting?
The good news is swimming in an ocean is perfectly safe for most pregnant women, provided you take some sensible precautions and don’t overdo things.
Is It Safe to Swim In The Ocean During Pregnancy?
Many health experts agree that swimming is one of the best exercises that a pregnant woman can do, because it is low impact and therefore does not place a large amount of stress on your body.
See Also: The Complete Guide To A Happy & Healthy Pregnancy
Swimming builds strength and aerobic capacity, and enables you to take advantage of the general benefits of exercising during pregnancy, which include:
- Reducing back pain
- Easing constipation
- Lower the risk of gestational diabetes
- Promoting healthy weight gain during pregnancy
- Improving your overall fitness and strength
Swimming in particular has several advantages over other forms of exercises like jogging, deadlifting or squatting, because it can be done safely during all three trimesters, and because being in the water can offer pain relief from the natural stresses and strains of pregnancy.
Many pregnant women also report that swimming helps them sleep better – and which mom-to-be doesn’t want that!
As with any exercise, health experts advise that it’s important to discuss things with your midwife or obstetrician–gynecologist, but the bottom line is that if you are healthy and your pregnancy is normal, it is safe to continue or start regular physical activity, and this includes swimming in the ocean.
Swimming in the ocean or sea does require some precautions however, because by its very nature there are differences to what you’ll find when you’re doing laps in your local swimming pool.
Things like the water temperature, currents, waves and weather conditions all need to be considered to ensure you aren’t placing you or your baby in any unnecessary danger.
See Also: The Complete Guide To A Happy & Healthy Pregnancy
Tips For Safe Ocean Swimming While Pregnant
Swimming in the ocean during your pregnancy should be a safe activity for most women, provided you take certain precautions.
Aside from getting the all-clear from your healthcare provider, here are 6 addition things to think about to help you and your baby stay safe:
1. Stay Close To The Shore
Even if you are a strong swimmer, it can be easy to get into trouble if you encounter a rip current or other change in conditions.
Swimming in oceans and seas does pose a risk, and given pregnant women tire more easily, the last thing you want to do is put yourself in a position where you’re exhausted and having to fight the elements in any way.
So to stay safe, keep close to the shore, and ideally in areas where your feet can touch the bottom at all times.
2. Stick To Clam Conditions
It can be frustrating if you’ve made the effort to go all the way to the beach, only for the conditions to be slightly off.
Even slightly choppy or rough water isn’t the sort of thing you want to be swimming in while pregnant, so make sure you have a policy whereby you will only swim if the conditions are perfect.
3. Don’t Swim Alone
It’s not uncommon for pregnant women to experience cramps while swimming, and sometimes these can be heavy.
For this reason alone it not worth swimming by yourself, so make sure you never go into the water unless someone else is accompanying you.
4. Avoid Swimming In Cold Sea When Pregnant
When you are pregnant it’s best to avoid water that is too hot (think steaming hot baths) as well as water that is too cold.
How cold the water feels to someone is relative, because we all feel and sense temperature slightly differently.
But in general you should avoid very cold or freezing cold water while you are pregnant, because your temperature regulation system is less effective than normal.
Swimming in water that is too cold could lead to a drop in your body temperature and cause hypothermia, as well as uterine contractions (tightening of uterine muscle fibers).
A helpful piece of advice is cold water is fine, but freezing water is not, and when swimming in cold water it’s best to stick to short durations of 2-4 minutes total.
5. Protect Against Sunburn & Dehydration
During pregnancy your skin becomes more sensitive, and this means that pregnant women can burn more easily than normal.
It’s therefore vitally important that you protect your skin using a sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30, and cover as much skin as possible when you are in the sun by wearing loose, breathable clothing.
If you’re in a hot location then avoid swimming between 10am to 2pm, because this is when the sun is at its strongest.
Remember to also drink plenty of water – pregnant women can overheat more quickly, which can be particularly dangerous if it leads to dehydrated (something that be put your baby at risk).
Experts recommend moms-to-be drink 8 to 12 cups of fluids a day (64 to 96 ounces) on a normal day, but if you are swimming on a hot day then you’ll need to take in much more.
6. Take It Easier Than Pre-Pregnancy
Lastly, however strong and healthy you’re feeling, while you’re expecting it’s always a good idea to take things a little easier when exercising.
For one thing, pushing yourself too hard can lead you to overheat, which as we saw above isn’t good for either mom or baby.
Listen to your body, especially when things don’t quite feel right, because this will help you avoid cramps and injuries, two things you certainly don’t want to be getting while swimming in the sea.
For most pregnant women swimming in the ocean or sea is a safe activity that can help you get the recommended 2.5 hours of moderate cardio exercise experts recommend you get per week.
Always respect the fact you’re in the great outdoors, where things like weather conditions, currents and waves can all influence how safe swimming is on a particular day.
For piece of mind it’s worth consulting with your healthcare provider before proceeding, and as with any exercise, take things easy, listen to your body and most of all enjoy yourself!
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