Any women that’s been pregnant is all too familiar with it’s delightful side effects… aches, pains and swollen feet to name just a few. Thankfully it’s all outweighed by the precious cargo that you are carrying and the famous pregnancy ‘glow’ that everyone talks about... (unfortunately, I was not someone who ever experienced this ‘glow’ unless you classed the sweat from the heatwave that we had the pleasure of experiencing this year).
Becoming pregnant and having a baby opens a world of new classes and hobbies to try. Everything from baby sensory sessions to Yoga and Buggy Fit classes suddenly appear on a google search of ante-natal and postnatal exercise. But did you know just how beneficial and enjoyable water exercise can be for pregnancy and postnatal women?
Firstly, there’s the social element. Aqua-Natal and Postnatal classes are a great opportunity to meet other women in your area who are pregnant too. Pregnancy and motherhood can be lonely and a bit daunting especially if you’re the first of out of your friends to do it. By joining a class you can chat to other women, share experiences and ask questions, most mum and baby classes have tea and coffee facilities available and it’s a nice way to meet new mummy friends and develop that all important support network.
Water has 3 main properties that affect water based exercise. These are hydrostatic pressure, buoyancy and resistance. These 3 main properties are what make water exercise so unique and different from exercising on dry land in an environment such as a gym.
Hydrostatic pressure is basically the pressure from the water on the body but the clever thing about it is that the water exerts pressure on the body and has the same effect as a compression stocking therefore it’s great for anyone suffering from swollen feet or varicose veins. Hydrostatic pressure is also good for high blood pressure as it aids in circulation (although any pregnant mums with high blood pressure should always get medical advice before exercising as pre-eclampsia which is a condition associated with high blood pressure which unfortunately normally excludes you from any kind of physical activity.)
Buoyancy, to describe it simply is the deeper in the water that you are immersed, the less you weigh. In chest-deep water, body weight is reduced by up to 90% and this reduction in weight reduces the potential for injuries caused by impact and shock being transmitted through bones, joints and ligaments. Now imagine how great that would feel to take the weight off the bump. Literally! Many of the women that I have met love that feeling of weightlessness in the water and just love floating around relaxing. Even women with the most debilitating of Pelvic Girdle Pain (a condition that affects 1 in 5 women in pregnancy) can benefit from this! With all 3 of my pregnancies I have experienced back ache and pelvic pain and the water is better that any pain relief I’ve taken. As soon as I step into the water my pain is gone and I’m able to move freely, which is why I fully understand why midwives call the water the natural epidural!
All the floating around relaxing and feeling weightless can help give you a great night’s sleep too….which, as any pregnant lady who has tossed and turned in search of comfort, is of great relief!
Resistance in water is very different to that experienced on dry land in a gym for example. All of us have no doubt at some point experienced the pain the day after a gym workout session, in the water its different. This is because the resistance in water is 4 to 42 times greater than that on dry land which means you can get a good workout but its low impact as the water cushions the joints thanks to its buoyancy and easily adjusted simply by changing the depth of the water! It’s also very clever as all muscles moved in the water as moved in equal amounts (the scientific term is dual concentric) so you never just work one isolated muscle at a time.
Time in the water with your newborn is also a fantastic time to bond. The constant guiding, cuddling, and ongoing communication between you and your baby present a fantastic opportunity to relax and play together and just think of all that lovely skin to skin contact that babies just love! Post-Natal depression affects 1 in 8 new mums and exercising in the water is great for getting the love chemicals oxytocin and dopamine flowing as It doesn’t have to be about swimming, allowing mum and baby to relax, play and bond together in the water, have huge benefits for all. Also babies generally sleep really well after being in the water… ask any mum she’ll tell you!
At Aquabellies we provide aqua-yoga classes for pregnancy, mum and baby, postnatal (without baby) and ladies and in 2015 was cited as the best new fitness class by Hello magazine. AquaBellies® instructors guide women and infants through the most important stages of their lives using gentle water based yogic practices and gentle fitness. Our classes are not just for pregnancy or with baby, but for all women at every stage of their lives.
‘absolutely loved attending this class, lovely setting time aside each week for me and to focus on bump…. I intend to use the relaxation methods practiced during labour’
‘great class to introduce your baby to the water... Class incorporates exercise with lots of fun for baby’
Vicki is a certified Aquabellies instructor and a qualified baby and preschool swim teacher. She is also a mum of two boys and pregnant with her third. Vicki teaches Aquabellies classes in the Antrim area see www.yogabellies.co.uk/members/vicki or www.facebook.com/VickiAquabellies For more information on classes outside of this area visit www.yogabellies.co.ukTagged with: Aquabellies, baby health, pregnancy