“I could hear the whales and dolphins talk under the water.”
Pregnancy is an exciting and daunting experience for most women, particularly for first-time mums. Fatigue, morning sickness and swollen feet can easily put you off being active, but according to Cristina Fernandez De Valle, a new mom from Cape Town, staying active is the best way to enjoy being pregnant. We talk to Cristina about how she stayed active during her pregnancy.
Pregnancy was not my favourite time – I couldn’t wait to get this little one out! I am usually a very active person and I participate in sports such as skiing, snow-boarding, ice skating, SUP, surfing, biking, golfing, Pilates and tennis. I found it quite challenging being limited by pregnancy. I was always tired and I felt like a hippo! I had to adapt quickly. At first I walked to nearby places (instead of taking the car) and then I started paddle boarding. When my belly got too big, I switched to walking again, swimming, biking and golf.
My first trimester was tiring, my second was great and my third consisted of heartburn and many nights spent throwing up!
The benefits of staying active while pregnant are that you enjoy your pregnancy more. It eases the process of getting your body back to normal after giving birth. I happened to have an easy delivery, but I’m not sure if this is necessarily linked to being active during my pregnancy.
My highlight was being in the water while pregnant. It made me feel lighter, soothed swollen feet and back pain. Swimming, aqua aerobics, and snorkeling are great ways to relax your heavy body and to meditate.
My baby boy is healthy, calm and very strong. He only cries when he’s hungry.
Cristina’s Top Water Activities for Pregnant Women
Swim with Sharks: When I was five months pregnant my husband and I went to visit friends in Hawaii. We wanted to do something special with them, so my husband secretly arranged a shark-diving experience for all of us! I didn’t want to miss out and I thought it would be fun, so I went along! I was the first person in the water – I could see plenty of sharks swimming far below me. I stayed in the ‘safe zone’ and held onto the rope next to the boat. The sharks were big and intimidating, but it was an incredible experience. When they swam close to me, I was a little nervous, but I made sure I stayed near the guide at all times. It was definitely worth it. Warning: If you normally keep calm in unsettling situations, shark diving may be for you, but if you are the anxious type, it’s best to stick to swimming and yoga.
Paddle Board: We did quite a bit of travelling during my pregnancy. On the day of my conception I was paddle boarding in Mexico. I carried on with this activity back in Cape Town and later in Hawaii too. Mostly I went out with my husband and friends, but sometimes I went by myself. Paddle boarding has been a hobby of mine for the last few years, so I felt confident getting onto the board and riding a few waves.
I was more cautious as my body was weaker and quickly became tired. I’d ride smaller waves and rested frequently between rides. I made sure that I did not overdo it. Later on in my pregnancy, it was too tricky to get onto the board, so I settled on swimming. My best times on the board were when we rode family waves – my husband, our little one in my tummy and me. Warning: Only paddle board if you have done it before falling pregnant – you need to be fit and have good balance.
Swim: I swam mostly in Hawaii and mostly by myself. My husband joined a few times, but if there were good waves out, he’d be surfing! Sometimes my girlfriends joined me, but they told me they couldn’t keep up! I actually got quite fit during this time, as I swam Waimea Bay almost daily. Swimming was a great choice when I got bigger – it’s calming and allowed me to meditate. The bigger I got, the more I wanted to spend time in the water. The best part was that I could hear the whales and dolphins talk under the water. There were also two turtles I’d visit around a particular rocky spot.
Aqua Aerobics: During the heavier months, I added aqua aerobics in the pool to my swimming routine. It’s a great way to raise the heart rate.
Snorkeling: Another favourite activity was snorkeling. My husband and I often swam with turtles and explored reefs. While I bopped on the surface, my husband would give me a show by swimming in between caves and blowing water rings.
Take Note: Only do activities that you feel comfortable with and don’t overdo it.
Follow Cristina’s adventures:
Instagram & twitter: cristinafva
Read our article on hypnobirthing: what it’s all about.