One physical activity that will help you coast more easily throughout this special time is swimming. As your back begins to ache, water weight takes over your once shapely legs and the pressure of baby on your bladder prods you to do little more than become a blob on the couch, a swimming pool is a welcome oasis. Many gyms have pools, and several even offer prenatal water classes. If not, don't fret, you can easily create a program on your own.
For just that short time in the water you are basically weightless. 50% - 80% of bone and joint stress is absorbed when exercising in waist to chest deep water. It is a safer and more comfortable environment, even on your back since your fetus will not be depressed as much on the vena cava as on land. You can float and twist without difficulty and you feel like you are flying. The best part is that you can get a valuable cardio workout without even really feeling it.
Water stretching, yoga and aerobics were my favorite activities in late pregnancy. There were days where I just didn't feel like exercising, but once my body hit the water, I felt a rush of energy and peace.
Squats are an exercise that every book and doctor said to do throughout pregnancy, but for me, they just weren't comfortable. The pressure on my feet and calves didn't allow me to faithfully practice them. I found that with floating foam dumb bells for balance, I could squat on the steps of the pool almost effortlessly, while still feeling the stretch. The foam dumb bells are not only fun to float around with, but there are all kinds of arm and shoulder exercises you can while swimming laps. Noodles, bouyancy belts, and paddles can be used to increase lever arms and the surface space you are exercising to increase the workout intensity. The speed of movement and resistance created in the water will increase the strength which helps burn fat, in turn building lean muscle mass.
Your baby will need a lot of holding and loving, so strong arms will come in handy. Strengthing the pectorial muscles also made me feel like my chest could better support the extra weight as my body was preparing to become a milk factory. This can be done by sitting on a noodle or wearing a bouyancy belt and raising arms to shoulder height. Sweep arms forward, causing your body to travel backwards. This will be more of a challenge if your palms are facing forward, or easier if your palms are facing the bottom of the pool. Paddles can be placed on hands to increase resistance even further. If the motion is reversed, it will work the upper back which is critical to counteract the forces of forward pull for your enlarging breasts and baby.