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question about swimming/increasing exercise while pregnant

(10 Posts)
kalidasa Thu 26-Jul-12 17:28:05

I have been a v. regular swimmer (usually several times a week) for years. I am now 21 weeks pregnant and it has been a totally horrendous pregnancy so far. I was completely confined to bed/hospital from weeks 4 to 16 with severe hyperemesis, and had been in bed so long that I had lost all my muscles in my legs - could hardly stand when I was first able to get up for a few minutes. I also lost a lot of weight. Over the last month I have been gradually recovering weight and strength and a week ago was finally able to make it to the pool. I am still throwing up every day and this will probably continue now until I have the baby, but I am managing OK in the afternoons and eating fairly normally again.

So I've been four times in the last week and it is so lovely to be back in the water. I used always to swim between a km and a mile each time, front crawl. In my four sessions I have worked up from a slow 20 lengths to 34 this morning, a 25m pool so getting close to a km (40 lengths), though slower than I used to be. It feels so fantastic to be getting my strength back. But I don't want to overdo it. I know it is fine to exercise 'as normal' in pregnancy, but is it also OK to train a little bit to get back to your previous normal level in these circs - i.e. after long illness? I hated feeling so weak and really want to feel strong for the labour/new born stage. The midwife has commented that my stomach muscles are good despite the months off all exercise - not sure if this is just from so many years of swimming before, or whether it's actually from the endless convulsive vomiting!!

Any thoughts/experiences re: sensible swimming while pregnant v. much appreciated!

nextphase Thu 26-Jul-12 17:44:50

I don't know about the effect of the hyperemesis will have had, but I was swimming most weeks during both of my pregnancies, right up to the end (like 3-4 days before birth).

I think if your body is used to exercise, and you know when to stop, and can take in enough calories to support your vomiting, baby, you and exercise, and it makes you feel better, I'd keep doing it but I'm not medically qualified

It also might be worth not aiming for fast times all the way to 64 lengths if you make it to a mile?

Can you talk to a midwife about it?

Glad your feeling better enough to exerise.

kalidasa Thu 26-Jul-12 18:50:25

Thanks nextphase. I'm not sure whether to focus on increasing the length I swim, but staying slower than I used to be and not worrying about speed; or whether to do shorter faster sessions. I seem to remember reading somewhere that you shouldn't get too hot/breathless when exercising if you're pregnant, so perhaps long but gentle is the best way to go. I find it hard to believe it can be bad for me though because it makes me feel so much better, both physically and (especially) psychologically.

One of my best friends is a doctor and she also swam right up to delivery both times which is encouraging.

nextphase Thu 26-Jul-12 20:54:30

I'd go for distance without the speed - imagine your training for labour! Even with my super quick labours, it was three hours of exertion!

I also did it for a combination of physical and psychological reasons.

Listen to your body seems to be pretty go advice!

kalidasa Thu 26-Jul-12 21:51:42

Such a good point about labour! Definitely a matter of distance over speed . . .

I enjoy exercise generally but there's something so meditative about swimming, I go into a sort of trance state I think.

kalidasa Sat 28-Jul-12 09:15:17

Well I'm off to teach at a summer school for a fortnight today (fingers crossed I can fit the vomiting in around the classes!). It's held at a boarding school in Dorset and there's a school pool I can use for free which is usually pretty quiet, so I can swim every day if I want to. I'm going to take your advice nextphase and work on building up strength/stamina and not worry about speed. I'll try to avoid getting really breathless. I am putting on weight now, and have just managed to get up past the weight I was when I first got pregnant, so I think I am managing to eat enough, but I know the baby's calorie demands start rising around now so I'll keep an eye and make sure I am putting weight on despite the exercise. I think the consultant said I'd have a growth scan as well to check on things because of the hyperemesis. All the food is provided at the summer school and it's really good so should manage to eat well despite chucking some of it up again!

nextphase Sat 28-Jul-12 10:06:26

Sounds like a great opportunity. What do you teach?

The other thing you could maybe do would be to concentrate on technique?

Hope the teaching and swimming goes well, and the vomiting fits around the rest of your life!

SkinnyVanillaLatte Sat 28-Jul-12 10:10:48

Your great stomach muscles will be down to years of swimming

I would definitely concentrate on stamina and style and the sheer joy and relaxation of being able to get in the pool again.

Hope you feel increasingly better!

kalidasa Sat 28-Jul-12 19:46:43

Thanks both. The summer school is for Ancient Greek (very useful!). It's mostly for teenagers who want to do classics at university but don't have the opportunity to do Greek at school, so come for a very intensive fortnight. It's really fun actually, though very intense.

I've just arrived and looking forward to my first swim in the school pool tomorrow morning.

LilllyV Mon 22-Oct-12 16:04:21

Think I might be a bit late to this party, but I suppose people still check these posts and stuff!
I was a bit unsure about exercising at the start of my pregnancy; how much i should be doing etc but I found some great advice on this site-

it's really readable and nothing too complicated!xxx

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