Swim into shape after pregnancy
Thinking about getting back in shape after having a baby? From toning up in the pool to restoring your fitness levels, we explain how and why swimming can help.
Congratulations on creating a human being! You’ve probably spent the last few weeks in a fog of nappies, night feeds and new experiences. But now that you’ve adjusted to life with your new baby, you might be starting to think about when and how to ease your body back into exercise.
Enter swimming. Low impact, and non-weight bearing, swimming is a great way to get back into the swing of exercise without putting a strain on your joints and ligaments, which can stay soft up to six months after you’ve given birth. Whether you choose to swim laps, jog in the water or do an aqua aerobics class, water-based exercise is ideal for helping you to tone up, strengthen your body and lose weight safely after having a baby.
Wondering when to start swimming after giving birth?
Life as a new mum can be hectic and exhausting, so it’s important not to rush into exercising, even if you’re super-keen on getting back into shape after your pregnancy. Having said that, exercise can help post-natal recovery, improve your wellbeing and give you some all-important space from the delightful demands of parenthood.
Swimming supports your weight, offering a safe way to exercise, even in the early weeks after the birth. However, when exactly it’s safe to swim for the first time after having a baby depends on a number of things, including your fitness before and during pregnancy, the type of birth you had (a caesarean requires a longer recovery period, for example) and whether you had an episiotomy or stitches. Generally speaking, it’s safe to swim providing stitches have healed and you no longer have post-natal bleeding, however it’s sensible to speak to your midwife or health visitor for advice that’s individual to you.
Flattering your post-pregnancy shape
First of all, let’s give your body the respect it deserves. It might not look quite like it did before you became a mama, but it’s created, housed and delivered a baby, which is no mean feat. In the process it’s changed somewhat and, as a result, you may be reluctant to don a swimsuit in your quest to get back in shape.
Right now, you want swimwear that flatters your body, controls your post-baby tummy, smoothes lumps and bumps, and supports your (possibly milk-enhanced) bust – all while looking stylish and modern. Enter our Speedo Sculpture line of swimsuits, which do all of the above and more, thanks to soft, durable, second-skin fabrics. Even better, our designers have included clever visual details such as pattern, prints and colour to create the illusion of a slimmer silhouette and smaller waist.
Above all, our Sculpture swimsuits have been designed to help you feel confident in and out of the water, so you can get the most from your time in the pool. Need a little more help in the confidence department before you swim? Read these easy tips to help you feel more comfortable and happy in your swimsuit.
Burning calories and losing baby weight
Okay, let’s get down to business. If you want to lose weight and get back in shape after giving birth, swimming is just the ticket. Not only does it support your joints, but it provides a pretty challenging all-over workout. Legs, tummy, arms, glutes – you’ll be hard pushed to find an alternative exercise that works so many muscle groups at the same time. And as for calories, even a gentle half-hour swim is the equivalent of around one hour of non-water-based exercise, and burn up to 250-300 calories, plus read our tips on how to burn more calories in the pool without swimming for longer.
Start your swimming gradually, paying attention to your body during and after your swim. As your fitness improves, lengthen your sessions or speed up your pace. Once you’re feeling stronger and fitter, consider including aqua-jogging in your pool sessions to mix it up – softer and gentler on your joints, it’s an ideal alternative to running on the road.
Tone up your tummy
As a new mum, you’ll be familiar with pelvic floor and core strengthening exercises, and should be performing them daily on the advice of your midwife or health visitor. Swimming requires a strong core to hold a solid, horizontal position in the water, but you can also incorporate aqua-gym style moves into your pool session, such as this straight leg raise, which is a good alternative to crunches:
Straight leg raise
In the deep-end, rest your back and hips against the pool wall, arms out-stretched either side of you, holding the pool edge, with your legs straight directly below you. Now use your core muscles to bring your legs up to a 90-degree angle, as if sitting with them outstretched straight in front of you. Keep your hips and back against the pool wall as you lift your legs up and then lower them back down again. Try 10-15 reps to work your abdominal muscles and help achieve a toned stomach.
Get leaner with resistance training
The secret to shaping up effectively after pregnancy is to build lean muscle. Muscle burns more calories, so the more you have, the more you’ll burn. The great thing about swimming? It provides consistent resistance every time you swim, but you can speed up the process by including body weight resistance exercises such as lunges and squats in your pool time, performing them as you would on dry land. Worried you’ll feel self-conscious? Check your local pool for group aqua-aerobics classes.
Finding the time to swim
So, all of the above sounds good. Just one problem – time . One thing you’re in short-supply of as a new mum. To help you get to the pool, enlist a lovely relative or baby-experienced friend to help you out. Depending on how flexible your baby is, and whether or not you’re breastfeeding, your willing babysitter could join you at the pool and wait while you swim. Or, if your baby is in a good napping routine, arrange for them to cover for you while you head to the pool. Perhaps they could even take your baby to a swimming class, or for a splash around in the baby pool, while you swim your laps?
It might not work out first time and, as with many things baby-related, it might take several swimming attempts to find a way that works for you and your baby. However, managing just one swim should be celebrated when you are a new mum, so relax, enjoy yourself and soak up those endorphins. Don’t forget to check out our top tips on incorporating swimming into a busy lifestyle, or shop our Learn to Swim range with everything you need for your babies first splash, to more confident swimming adventures.