Pregnancy guide > You > Mums to be > Exercise during pregnancy > Swimming during pregnancy

Swimming during pregnancy

Advice on the many benefits of swimming whilst pregnant, plus the opportunity to purchase a range of pregnant swimming costumes
The benefits of exercising throughout pregnancy are numerous. Research has suggested that gentle exercise helps your body to prepare for and recover from childbirth as well as helping to reduce uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms such as nausea, insomnia, heartburn and aches.

The benefits

Swimming is possibly the best form of exercise you can take during pregnancy. Even a gentle swim provides you with a great cardio vascular workout that boosts your circulation and aids the transportation of oxygen and nutrients around your body. This helps you to feel energised and also reduces water retention and swelling.

Swimming also works every major muscle group in your body so taking a regular trip to the pool will facilitate the development of muscle tone. This will help you to adapt to your changing shape and also make it easier to regain your pre-pregnancy figure after you've given birth. Swimming also begins to build endurance and endorphin responses that will make you better equipped to tolerate pain during labour.

Submersion in water provides you with a weightless environment in which to workout. This is especially beneficial during pregnancy as your joints, muscles and ligaments become particularly susceptible to injury as increased levels of the hormone progesterone cause them to soften and become overly flexible. Swimming poses almost no risk or joint or ligament injury and can actually help to reduce aches any pains by supporting your body as you move.

Swimming also provides you with the opportunity to relax - gently swimming up and down a pool can be very therapeutic while simply floating in the pool with the water supporting your body can help relax both your mind and your muscles.

How should I swim?

As long as you are experiencing a healthy pregnancy you should be able to continue a regular swimming programme for the full nine months. Current recommendations suggest that undertaking moderate exercise for 30 minutes 3 or 4 times a week is really beneficial. However, it is important that you listen to your body and don't push yourself too hard. You should always warm up, cool down and stretch out either side of your swimming session as this helps your body to prepare for and recover from the exercise.

Unless advised otherwise it is safe to do any stroke that you feel comfortable with, find most physically beneficial and enjoy. However, breaststroke is particularly helpful in improving your posture and reducing back ache by strengthening your abdominal, back, chest and shoulder muscles.

If you are new to exercise it is best to start slowly and build up the length of time you spend in the pool over several weeks. During pregnancy your focus should be on doing what feels best for you and your baby rather that pushing your body hard to improve your fitness.

Although exercising in the water will help to reduce the chances of overheating it is still important to drink plenty of fluids before, during and after you swim so as to prevent dehydration. You should also have a snack such as fruit or yogurt after you have completed your swim to keep your glucose levels up.


While the benefits of swimming are numerous it is important to be aware of some precautions that you should take. You should avoid diving and spending time in jacuzzi's, saunas or steam rooms. Additionally, you should always check with your doctor or midwife before you undertake any exercise programme and keep them updated with your progress. If you ever experience any back, chest or abdominal pain, dizziness, palpitations, vaginal bleeding or fluid loss or uterine contractions you should seek medical attention.

As long as you have the approval of your health care provider, swimming regularly throughout your pregnancy will help you to cope with the physical and emotional changes that preparing for a new baby brings.

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Hi, I am seven weeks pregnant and having a lot of fatigue and nausea. I love swimming but I am not sure whether this is safe to do. I have searched the internet and the usual advice is it is absolutely safe. Any words of advice???
by RickandPam 25th Oct 2010, 10:36am
I'm 32 weeks pregnant and dissapointed that my mid wife has told me to stop swimming as this may cut off the oxygen supply to the baby! I of course have stopped but had been swimming 2-3 times a week and really enjoyed it. According to this sight I have nothing to worry about and should keep swimming - now confused and frustrated as don't feel up for any other kind of exercise. Can anyone give me any advise in this?
by donnamckit 9th Nov 2009, 10:32am
with swimming during pregnancy could it help relax more whilst having a water birth.
Maternity costumes are normally strechy but expand more when you get your bump so if it was me i would buy a maternity costume because even if you feel uncomfortable at the minute you will need it in the later pregnancy stage.
by natalie2389 7th May 2009, 9:21am
wht typ ov swimmin costume should i wear wen im swimming? im 16 weeks n ma boobs r huge nw i think if i wear a normal swimin costume my boobs will pop owt but my bump isnt huge yet so i cnt wear maternity swimmin costume coz i think it myt look silly loll
by kitkat303 21st Apr 2009, 10:16am
does anyone know if there are guidelines for when you should stop swimming? i'm just worried that my waters could breakk in the pool!!!??? i've always gone swimming and have swim twice a week for my whole pregnancy, i love it. has anyone ever had this happen to them and what are the chances??
by GEM1112 3rd Feb 2009, 9:18am
I was swimming last night and spent some time in the steam room, only because a heavily pregnant lady was in and out of there and the sauna, i asked if she was ok with it as is does say not to but she said she had always done it with previous children the only thing she couldn't use fully was the jacuzzi as the baby gets thrown around, but she does sit on the side and puts her botton half in.
by mooa1 25th Mar 2008, 9:07am
Hi there, 26 weeks pregnant and I'm new here..I love swimming and it does wonders for me, I feel so fit, putting the belly aside, and great for stress release!!!
by Hotlipz 28th Jul 2007, 1:03pm