Free swimming will help pregnant women

February 01 2020
Free swimming will help pregnant women

Thornbury & Yate MP Luke Hall writes for the Voice

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

In the summer, I teamed up with local mums, dads and families to push the council to create a new scheme, offering free swimming to local expectant mothers throughout their pregnancy.

After months of campaigning, I am delighted to inform Voice readers that from February 1 this year, pregnant women living in South Gloucestershire will now have access to free swimming. 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 simply present their Maternity Exemption Certificate, which is supplied by their doctor or midwife, and proof of address before their first session.

Delivering this promise of free swimming has been an incredibly important objective in my Positive Plan for Schools and Family Life here in South Gloucestershire. 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.

It 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 further research suggesting that it has a potential for improving the mental and physical health of children well into adulthood.

The news is a great step forward in achieving the first stage of my Positive Plan to improve Family Life. I will now push for ensuring that other aspects of this plan see the same success for our schools, by building two new primary schools in Yate, rebuilding Castle School and upgrading schools throughout South Gloucestershire and improving special educational needs and disabilities provision, including better equipment for deaf children.

For further information on the scheme, please do not hesitate to email me at, where I shall be happy to help.