While being pregnant generally comes with a lot of extra care and caution for your unborn and yourself, you have to be aware of specific safety tips to keep you safe even while you go about your usual leisure activities before becoming pregnant such as swimming at the beach, sea, or ocean.
While some of the risks associated with swimming at the beach include harsh ocean waves hitting your pregnant belly and knocking you off, maybe dragging you away, there are great benefits that come with swimming generally during pregnancy.
Benefits of Swimming While Pregnant
Swimming is a recommended sports activity (exercise) during pregnancy. It is safe at all trimesters as it offers many benefits to the mother and her unborn such as:
- keeping you cool while at an exercise instead of overheating
- reducing fatigue in the first trimester (0 weeks – 12 weeks)
- enhancing blood circulation
- reducing pain and strain around the growing belly in the second trimester (12 weeks – 24 weeks)
- reducing back pain and hip pain and providing relief to your joints
- improves pregnancy generally, including labor and birth
- soothes the feet and ankles (swelling) in the third trimester (24 weeks – 40 weeks)
- increasing your heart rate, which is a safe cardiovascular exercise
What You Should be Aware of About Safe Pregnancy
Contrary to several opinions, pregnancy is unique to everyone, and what works for Lady A may not be it for you. The safest practice is to always check with your healthcare provider.
Safe to say, there are different levels of risk associated with every pregnant woman – low-risk or high-risk pregnancy.
Low-risk pregnancy is when a woman doesn’t have any underlying complication, be it maternal or fetal, that can pose a danger to her health and baby’s during pregnancy up until labor and birth.
On the other hand, a high-risk pregnancy will require a woman to be monitored severely by a specialist due to a higher chance of complications throughout the pregnancy. This may be a result of existing health conditions or lifestyle choices.
As such, you want to be aware of the state of your pregnancy early enough before even visiting the beach at all or going for a swim in a pool.
If you have a high-risk pregnancy, you should not stress your health over swimming at all. There are alternate activities you can engage in, such as:
- Yoga – however, you should avoid hot yoga and more intense sessions as this may increase your body temperature.
Swimming in Different Water Bodies – What to Expect?
When you decide to go on a vacation, there are different options to consider going swimming. It could be the beach, river, lake, or swimming pool.
There are different things to expect depending on which you may be going for.
Swimming in the Ocean
Swimming in an ocean gives exuberant fun that makes you fill light and joyful at the same time.
Not to forget, the ocean remains home to aquatic habitats that you may not see immediately but may be present.
They include jellyfish, anemones, and hydroids. These creatures are wild and can sting any time, causing excruciating pain.
In extreme cases, there could be a shark lurking around. Avoid swimming around where sharks may be found.
Other natural hazards in the ocean include harsh ocean waves and strong currents that could knock you off hard against the shore floors.
Safety Tips When Swimming in the Ocean
- Avoid swallowing ocean water as it can be contaminated with untreated sewage and other contaminants
- Ask the locals more about the ocean and also see how and where they swim before going in
- Before going to the beach, check the national weather forecast for what the wave condition will be like for the day
- When you enter the beach, check that your feet touch the bottom. This is so you can hold your feet when the current comes.
- Ensure not to walk or climb rocks that may be at the bottom. You may trip off and get dragged by the current.
- Don’t be too adventurous
Extra tip: when you are waist-deep in the ocean, the waves don’t hit as hard as when standing at ankle or knee level.
Swimming in the Lake
While some lakes are okay for you to swim in when pregnant, there may be dangers lurking around, including jagged rocks and strong rip currents that may be present on bigger lakes like the Great Lakes.
Putting on a life jacket is also important because you may not know how deep the lake water could go.
Safety Tips When Swimming in the Lake
- Avoid swallowing lake water as it can be contaminated with bacteria
- Put on some footwear when in a lake because of the rocky bottom that could be underneath
- Avoid swimming where there may be water traffic – like boats and other watercraft
- If you are caught up in a rip current while in a lake, you should try to maintain your foot balance or swim across to the shoreline until the current stops
Swimming in a River
Swimming in a river, just like in any waterbody, helps keep your body really cool; it poses its own risk as well. River water can be contaminated with fecal. As such, you should not swallow such water.
Safety Tips When Swimming in the River
- Avoid swimming where there may be water traffic – like boats.
- Put on a life jacket
Swimming in a Pool
The most convenient spot to swim could be in a swimming pool right in your home.
Swimming pools could contain a high level of chlorine which is not safe for you and your unborn.
You should avoid swallowing chlorinated water as well when pregnant.
More Safety Tips You Should Remember When Carrying A Pregnancy At The Beach, In A Swimming Pool, Or Any Waterbody At All You Should:
- watch out for signs/post at the beach that says there may be harsh waves;
- not dive, jump or slide while in the water as this could hurt you and your baby;
- don’t go too deep into the ocean – to prevent the pressure of water over you;
- spend just short times only. Better to do it intermittently;
- carry essentials.
Risks of Waves Hitting the Pregnant Belly
Excessive pressure hitting your belly
Even though there is no threshold of pressure that should hit your belly during pregnancy, not every trimester stage can take too much pressure.
From the second semester onwards, you want to be careful of how much pressure hits the belly. In a worst-case scenario, a strong wave or ocean current could knock you off, and you could fall in a discomforting position and be dragged along.
Safe and Fun Ways to Enjoy the Waves at the Ocean
- One of the best ways to enjoy the waves at the ocean, if they are not too harsh or knocking you off, is to turn your back to the waters or go under them. Also, remember to hold your footing till the waves subside.
- Ride on your husband’s back – early in your second trimester, when your pregnancy may not be too heavy yet, say less than 20 weeks, you can hop on your husband’s back. That way, the waves don’t really hit your belly, and you still enjoy the fun of riding on your husband.
Other Risks While at The Beach and How to Manage Them
- Sunburn – when the sun is up while at the beach, you can experience a sunburn, which often leads to dehydration.
As a matter of fact, a woman is more at risk of experiencing sunburn when pregnant than when not due to the high level of hormones available during pregnancy, making their skin more sensitive to sun rays.
On the other hand, if you intend to tan during pregnancy, you want to read up more on pros and cons of tanning while pregnant.
Therefore, when you’re not spending time in the water while at the beach, you should wear cover clothing, ensure you’re using a sunshade with an SPF of at least 40, and apply sunscreen to protect your skin.
- Dehydration – Next in line to sunburn is dehydration.
A pregnant woman can lose up to 64 oz (half a gallon of liquid) when exposed to temperatures above 90 degrees F within 10 minutes.
Losing that amount of liquid can induce preterm labor or even lead to miscarriage.
On the positive side, your baby needs as much water as you; hence you need to double your water consumption to meet your baby’s needs.
You want to make sure you come loaded with drinking water. Better safe, avoid staying out on the beach during the peak hours of sunlight, and rehydrate when you must have sweated so much.
- Burnout & Overheating – to avoid burnout on yourself from the much fun, you should take intermittent breaks to rest under a shade and rehydrate.
On the other hand, you should avoid getting overheated. Though swimming is a super flexible way to cool down while exercising, overheating is naturally triggered internally due to your blood vessels carrying more blood and food to your baby.
One risk of overheating (your body temperature rising above 102℉ – 38.9℃) as early as in the first trimester can lead to neural tube defects and miscarriage.
Final Wrap Up
Swimming is one of the many safe exercises you can practice when pregnant. To be sure swimming is just the right one for you, you should consult your doctor to assess your pregnancy risk and give you the best recommendation.
Nonetheless, swimming is the safest exercise for pregnant women, but swimming in the ocean should be cautious when you see the harsh waves, which may knock you off.