How does it work?
A typical aquanatal class will consist of a gentle warm-up followed by a specially designed aerobic workout in the water, a little like aqua aerobics. This may include swimming a few lengths or doing isolated exercises in the pool. Next comes the exercises to improve muscular strength and endurance with some stretches thrown in to increase flexibility. Finally, a lovely little cool-down will end the session to leave you feeling calm and revived.
Obviously you should wear a swimsuit to the class - a normal one for small bumps or a maternity style for later pregnancy. You might also want to wear a sports bra for additional support, as well as a pair of socks which will give you extra grip and protection for the pool floor.
Aquanatal classes can help you both physically and emotionally during your pregnancy. Physically, it increases your levels of stamina and fitness which might then help you achieve a shorter, more active labour with less chances of medical intervention. The gentle stretching exercises will make you feel good and can help keep you fit and supple for the birth too. Mentally, exercise releases fantastic feel-good endorphins that can help alleviate antenatal and postnatal depression.
Is it for me?
You don’t need to be an Olympic swimmer to participate in this class, but to be on the safe side always tell your aquanatal instructor beforehand if swimming it not your strong point. If you’re feeling a little self-conscious you may not want to be seen in your swimming costume, but rest assured everyone’s in (or perhaps out of) the same boat. It is not recommended to begin classes until after the 14 th week of pregnancy, and always consult your GP, midwife and/or aquanatal teacher before undergoing classes.
Good to know:
Research shows that the babies of mothers who exercised moderately during pregnancy had less incidence of foetal distress and coped with labour contractions better.