View Full Version : breaststroke in pregnancy

April 23rd, 2012, 04:24 PM
Today while I was swimming a swimming instructor approached me to ask about what a pregnant woman, taking swim instruction, had just told him. I think that I was approached because he knows me and because I'm a woman, thus I should have an opinion on the following.

This woman he is instructing had been told by her OB/GYN that doing breaststroke a lot would excessively strengthen certain muscles (which ones I am not sure) when would then keep her from dilating properly in labor.

This sounded fishy to me, but hey, I'm no expert breaststroker. I am inclined to think that most physical exercise precautions heard from OB/GYN's are overly cautious.

So, breaststroker women, what say you? I would think that it is far fetched that breaststroke could have such an effect, but I'm open to learning.

I have a friend who swam extensively throughout her pregnancy, and she found breaststroke to be uncomfortable toward the end due to the kick, but that was just a comfort thing.

Allen Stark
April 23rd, 2012, 05:50 PM
A surprising number of swim coaches don't have a good idea which muscles are used in BR so I doubt her OB/GYN has any idea.It has been nearly 40 yr since I was in medical school so my OB knowledge is out of date,but I don't see how doing BR properly could be a problem in the way mentioned.Late in pregnancy the cartilage of the joints soften to make it easier to expand the pelvis.Pain at the pubic symphysis is common late in pregnancy if a woman walks too much and I suppose swimming BR could also exacerbate this problem,but the bilateral movement of BR would seem to mitigate that.I'd say,if it is uncomfortable don't do it,but it shouldn't affect dilation.

April 23rd, 2012, 07:54 PM
Breaststroker here. That's news to me. I swam plenty of breaststroke during all three of my pregnancies with no problems. How would breaststroke kick affect dilation?

April 23rd, 2012, 09:10 PM
Well, that was my feeling too, but it's good to get feedback from the swimming community!

April 23rd, 2012, 10:06 PM
I'm siding with the suspicious OB/GYN. Anyone who says don't do breaststroke is bound to be more intelligent that someone who recommends it.

April 23rd, 2012, 10:18 PM
Hmmm definitely sounds odd. I'm no breaststroker, but still swam plenty through both my pregnancies.

Late in pregnancy the cartilage of the joints soften to make it easier to expand the pelvis.

I remember reading that breaststroke can actually help this expansion.

As for dilation - well my 1st baby was fully dilated around 6 hours after I realised I was in labour, so no problem there!

April 25th, 2012, 08:46 AM
That's news to me... How would breaststroke kick affect dilation?

Dilation happens when a pregnant woman's body is good and ready for it to happen! Having stronger leg, hip and core muscles from swimming and kicking breaststroke would not in itself make dilation impossible or stall once started.

My philosophy on swimming while pregnant is this: if it hurts when you do it, don't do it. If it feels good and comfortable and you're getting enough oxygen, do it. The baby will make its grand entrance when it's ready!

Dilation is one of those "magical" things that our bodies do. I've heard of women who rapidly dilate, some who slowly dilate and then rapidly dilate near the end, some who slowly dilate and then stop completely, and some who fail to dilate at all despite doing all the things that are recommended to start dilation on/after 40 weeks gestation (walking, and other stuff I'd be embarrassed to mention here...)