Is it safe for pregnant women to go swimming in a public pool?
I was told by my doctor that I shouldn’t go swimming in the indoor pool at my gym because pregnant women have compromised immunity and the pool will have high levels of bacteria. I am unable to find any research supporting this, however, and would like to use the gym pool to exercise while pregnant.
Dr. Catherine Spong, a practicing obstetrician-gynecologist and acting director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, says a woman’s immune system is considered more vulnerable when she is pregnant. But as long as the pool water is well maintained, evidence favors taking a dip.
A 2010 study conducted in Denmark and published in the journal Epidemiology aimed to answer the question “Is Swimming During Pregnancy a Safe Exercise? by comparing swimming, bicycling and no exercise. Swimming is considered an ideal activity for pregnant women, the study found. There was no indication that swimming in pool water “is associated with adverse reproductive outcomes.”
A more recent study, published in 2013 in The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, cited concerns that either water-borne pathogens or methods of disinfecting pool water might increase the risk of birth defects. But the data found no positive association between pool use and birth defects, which the authors called “reassuring.”
Most recently, a report issued in December from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists presented swimming as a safe physical activity for pregnant women. In its review of physical activity and exercise, the report listed safe and unsafe physical activities for pregnant women reflecting new clinical and scientific data.
Swimming is “well tolerated by pregnant women and generally considered to be encouraged and to be safe,” Dr. Spong said.