Swimming After Childbirth

Swimming after childbirth helps you lose weight and restore muscle tone. It also boosts your strength and energy, which may be sapped after your pregnancy and delivery. Swimming is particularly beneficial because it works your upper and lower body and your core. Plus, it's low-impact and reduces the stress on your weight-bearing joints, which become looser during pregnancy. Consult your doctor first and follow a few guidelines to start swimming safely after your delivery.

A young woman swimming in a pool (Image: Thinkstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

When to Start Swimming

Some women can start exercises such as walking at a mild to moderate pace within a few days of childbirth. However, it's best to wait until your lochia -- the vaginal discharge after childbirth -- ceases before starting to swim. Lochia usually begins to taper off seven to 10 days after childbirth, but won't stop completely for another two to four weeks. Also, if you've had an episiotomy, you should wait until it's well-healed, usually after four weeks, before starting to swim. Returning before this can lead to possible infection.

When to Start Swimming After a Cesarean Section

In general, you can start going to the gym or resuming a full workout six to eight weeks after a cesarean section. Unless your wound is not healing properly or is infected, there's no reason why you shouldn't be able to start swimming once the lochia ceases, according to Chrissie Gallagher-Mundy, director of the London Academy of Personal Fitness and author of "Cesarean Recovery." However, you should wait until you have your doctor's approval before swimming after a cesarean section. Even with her approval, you may want to wait until you no longer have any cramping or pain in your incision

Weight Loss from Postpartum Swimming

Once you begin to exercise after childbirth, work your way up to 30 minutes to one hour daily. Brisk swimming for one hour burns about 400 calories, according to AskDrSears.com. If you also cut about 100 calories from your diet, you'll be losing 3,500 calories, or 1 pound, each week. Avoid obsessing too much over calories, especially if you're breastfeeding. Your baby needs the extra nutrients that a proper diet provides.

Considerations

Monitor your health after giving birth to determine if you're ready to start swimming or other exercise after childbirth. Pace yourself -- there's no rush. Watch for symptoms that signal trouble, such as bleeding or increasing pain. If you do have these symptoms after swimming, consult your doctor. Also, drink water before, during and after your swimming session to prevent dehydration. Avoid swimming alone; new mothers are usually exhausted and you may tire quickly. It's best to have a friend or family member nearby in case you need help.

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