Walking around with a baby bun in the summer is no fun — I felt like a wobbly wrecking ball of a whale producing enough sweat to refill one of the Great Lakes. Doctors say a little exercise does wonders for the baby and mom alike, but honestly, what pregnant woman wants to do that?
Exercise does release endorphins — those happy hormones — and pregnancy hormones need all the extra happy juice they can get to chill out. So, the whole exercise thing made sense to me, but overcoming the urge to veg out until my baby’s arrival was hard.
A brilliant idea changed my whole aversion to pregnancy exercise — water workouts. Picture a luxurious dip in the bathtub filled with Epsom salt and surrounded by candles, except bigger and with more room to kick out your mermaid legs.
How Water Workouts Benefit Pregnant Women
Pregnant women go through all kinds of aches and pains while waiting to birth that baby bun. A soak does the pregger-bod good. Water eases the stress on musculoskeletal system and supports the fetus. Swimming, water aerobics and other water workouts also promote stamina and recovery after birth besides reducing backache, soreness, edema, cramps and varicose veins. Such physical activity improves circulation and digestion, too.
Get ready to work it out in the water! Mama, you need all the pick-me-ups you can get during the three-act fun of birthing your tiny human.
I know relaxing in the pool weekly provided major relief for me, and it even led to mindfulness meditation in my Epsom salt-rubbed tub. Kick those mermaid feet up and sing your mama-to-be siren song.
Water Workouts Fit for Mermaid Mamas
Having your first or third tiny human? The more munchkins you have, the more you realize that every pregnancy differs, and you get more familiar with the birthing process. While it’s more miraculous and less scary the third time around, your aches and pains still affect your motherly moods.
Let the waters take the pain and worries away. You can do shallow-water or deep-water exercise depending on what feels comfortable during your pregnancy and what your doctor advises. Start slowly in a pool with a comfortable temperature, and find your mermaid mama fit with these workouts:
1. Shallow Water Walking
Use shallow water walking as a warm-up or as an exercise itself. The push-and-pull of the water will feel like you’re walking with weights, but comfortably.
Go from one end of the pool at waist height to the other side for five minutes. As you make your way into slightly deeper water, practice shoulder shrugs, knee lifts, hip circles and toe points. Try to hold each position for 20 seconds. Add variety by stepping sideways or using grapevine steps.
2. Shallow Water Jacks
In shallow water, stand with your feet hip-width apart. Extend your arms to your shoulders in a horizontal line. Jump up, move your feet together and press your arms downward. Return to the starting position, and repeat for as many times as you can tolerate for one minute.
Try not to drift backward or arch your back. This exercise focuses on strengthening your back, shoulders, hips, thighs and buttocks.
Secure aquatic hand weights to your wrists to challenge Newton’s Laws of Motion as you walk. The weights are on the light side with a combined total of one pound.
3. Alternating Elbow to Knee Stands
Stand tall with your feet pointed forward at hip-width apart. Feel the weight of the balls of your feet against the pool floor. Feel stable?
When ready, raise your right knee to the height of your hip, crossing the left elbow just outside of the knee. Try to touch your knee if you’re in the very early stages of pregnancy. If you’re in later stages, don’t aim for that. Just feel the stretch. Return to your starting position. Alternate this same move on your left side.
Repeat sides for one minute. As your pregnancy develops, you get an abdominal stretch if you slightly bend to your side. Do what feels comfortable and gives your body a little stretch.
4. Back Leg Curls
This exercise will warm up your arms, legs and core. Stand with your toes pointed forward and with the width of your stance slightly past your hips. Extend your arms out straight in front of your torso, with your palms facing down. Pull your right leg up toward your buttocks, as far as it feels comfortable.
Add fun to the mix by scooping water backward with your opposite hand. The water should be at a reasonable height for you to do this. Keeping your fingers closed maintains the natural friction and force your hands are challenging in the water. Play with other hand motions as you alternate positions for one minute.
Back leg curls made me feel like a yoga water goddess doing a special dance for the sun. It’s like being Ariel when she got legs but less clumsy — and definitely more rotund.
Water, Water Everywhere
These water workouts were my pregnancy fave when the going got tough. I felt empowered and floated away life’s worries, letting the water carry the weight for once.
They say water is the essence of life, and it’s no lie. These workouts made my recovery period much easier and faster and served as a way to destress during the week. You don’t have to hit the pool every day, but I suggest keeping your frequency consistent.
End the day with more mama mermaid time in the tub with a big old splash of Epsom salt. Surround yourself with candles. Kick back against the tide, and sing your siren song as you wait for your little one to greet the world.