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Ante & Post Natal

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Aquatic Therapy During Pregnancy

The advice for exercising in pregnancy has changed over the years, before expectant mums were advised to avoid physical activity; exercise is now encouraged at all stages of pregnancy.  Even those who were not physically active prior to pregnancy are encouraged to participate in regular exercise during pregnancy.

Aquatic therapy is a safe, gentle way in which you can maintain strength and cardiovascular fitness throughout pregnancy, which has shown to help reduce complications during labour and speed up post-natal recovery.

If you are having any specific problems such as PGP or low back pain, the physiotherapist can modify the exercises to help alleviate these symptoms.

Our pool temperature is maintained at 34 degrees, below the maximum recommended temperature of 35 degrees in pregnancy.  The warmth of the water can help with the feeling of relaxation.

Benefits of Aquatic Therapy during pregnancy

  • Due to changes in centre of gravity, balance is affected during pregnancy.  Exercising in water gives a safe environment to exercise in without risk of injury from falling.  Balance can also be improved
  • Lower limb swelling is a common side effect of pregnancy, the hydrostatic pressure of water helps with venous return, reducing swelling in the lower limbs
  • Buoyancy of water offloads up to 90% of body weight when immersed to neck level, reducing pressure through joints which can help relieve low back pain.
  • Exercise on land may become increasingly more uncomfortable as the pregnancy progresses, this is when exercise in water is most beneficial
  • Those experiencing low back pain or pregnancy related pelvic girdle pain (PGP) may find it difficult to exercise on land, exercising in water allows you to maintain cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength, which can help reduce complications during labour and childbirth.
  • You do not have to be able to swim to benefit from exercise in water!

Post-Natal Aquatic Therapy

Exercise in water can be a fun, low impact way to restart exercise in the post-natal period.  You can work both on strength and cardiovascular fitness without putting excessive strain through your joints.

Benefits of Exercising in the post-natal period

  • Strengthen core and pelvic floor
  • Weak core and pelvic floor muscles can lead to back pain and long term urinary incontinence
  • Help reduce fatigue
  • Combat baby blues and reduce stress
  • Help to lose excess weight
  • Studies have shown women who exercise regularly in the post-natal period reduce their risks of developing chronic conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity

When can I start?

  • Following an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, provided you are advised it is safe to do so by your GP, you can start exercising 6 weeks post-partum
  • For any complicated births and C-sections, it is advised to wait until 8-10 weeks post-partum, depending on the advice of your GP

What can I do?

  • Start with gentle exercise
  • It is advised that high impact exercise such as running and jumping, as well as lifting heavy weights should be avoided in the early months
  • Focus on building up core and pelvic floor muscles strength as well as slowly building up your cardiovascular fitness with low impact activities such as brisk walking, cycling, low-impact aerobics, swimming and aqua-aerobics

Things to remember

  • Pregnancy hormones such as Relaxin, will remain for a few months after birth, and if you are breastfeeding will remain until you stop.  This will mean your joints will be a bit more vulnerable due to the increased elasticity of the ligaments that support the joints
  • Remember to stay well hydrated when exercising, especially if you are breastfeeding
  • If breastfeeding, it is advised that you feed your baby before exercising, so that you are more comfortable whilst exercising

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