Free swimming available for pregnant women in South Gloucestershire

Column by Thornbury and Yate MP Luke Hall.

As a father to three young children, I know how important it is to feel you are doing everything possible to give your family the best start in life.

Therefore, I am absolutely delighted that the ‘Free Swimming for Pregnant Women’ pilot scheme has restarted again in all Active Leisure Centres across South Gloucestershire.

This free service will now be offered in every single Active Leisure Centre across South Gloucestershire in; Yate, Bradley Stoke, Kingswood, Longwell Green and Thornbury.

To take part, expecting mums must present their Maternity Exemption Certificate, which is supplied by their doctor or midwife, and proof of address before their first session.

The idea for such an initiative came from new research which demonstrates the huge benefits of exercise, and in particular swimming, for pregnant women.

The Royal College of Midwifery welcomed reports from NHS England, as well as recommendations from the Government’s Chief Medical Officer, who advised parents to aim for 150 minutes a week of moderate physical activity during pregnancy. Swimming is widely recognised as a low-impact method of aerobic exercise, and is particularly good for pregnant women, as it can be performed safely in all three trimesters.

Swimming has numerous benefits specifically for pregnant women, such as preventing diabetes during pregnancy, reducing the need for caesarean sections, improved fitness and reducing high blood pressure. Swimming can also have a long-term effect on a child’s development beyond birth, with research suggesting it has a potential for improving the mental and physical health of children well into adulthood.