Pregnancy & Pilates
Published on: 26/04/18
Congratulations if you have recently discovered you are pregnant. What an exciting venture you have ahead of you.
Over the next 40 weeks your body will be going through many changes as your baby develops. It is recommended to keep exercising during your pregnancy to adapt with the body changes, aid with labour and help with your recovery post pregnancy.
Pilates is a great form of exercise for pregnant women as it is a low impact form of exercise. Pilates strengthens your core, back and pelvic floor muscles without straining other joints, targeting specific muscles and functions that can affect you during pregnancy and after birth, in a safe way.
It is important to attend a Pre Natal Pilates class (specific for pregnant women) taught by a qualified instructor to make sure your growing needs are met.
Benefits of Pilates for pregnant women:
Strengthens your ‘core’ muscles, in particular the Transverse Abdominals.
There is a misconceptions about working on your abdominals during pregnancy, they should of course be worked but it is a matter of how they should be worked. The Transverse Abdominals (TVA) acts like an internal corset which reates support for your spine, the extra weight of the baby and helps to avoid the exaggerated separation between the Rectus Abdominals (six pack muscles).
A hormones called Relaxin makes tissues/ligaments that connect your bones more pliable in pregnancy, making you more prone to injury or cause Diastasis Recti postpartum. Rectus Abdominal exercises i.e. roll ups, C curves, ½ rollbacks, any flexion against gravity are not suitable during pregnancy for this reason.
The TVA stabilises your back and pelvis, by strengthening these muscles it can help to prevent back or pelvic pain.
Strengthens your pelvic floor muscles
One of the main functions of the pelvic floor is to support the organs in the lower abdominal cavity. As the uterus grows it relies on the pelvic floor (PFM) for support, which is why it needs to be strong. On the other hand, in order to give birth the pelvic floor must completely relax to allow the baby to enter this world. Pilates helps women to contract the PFM and release, ensuring that it is both strong and flexible. A strong Pelvic Floor will also help the body return to its pre pregnancy state and prevents incontinence.
For more information about the importance of the pelvic floor muscles please read my previous blog posted on 1st March.
Improves Breath Control
The diaphragm is compressed up into the chest as your baby grows, even though the lung capacity remains the same, it can feel increasingly harder to breathe. Pilates breathing focuses on the intercostal muscles lining the ribcage, which allows you to feel able to take deep breaths. Pilates breathing can help to keep the mid-back (thoracic spine) flexible, which often gets tight during pregnancy.
Breathing exercises will also help with the breath control during labour.
Your posture and alignment will change as your body adapts to your growing baby. Pilates can help to strengthen the stabilising muscles especially around the hips and pelvis which can help ease aches and pains especially in the lower back. Strengthening these muscles will also ensure that there are no permanent imbalances postpartum.
Quicker Recovery Postpartum
The stronger the body is during pregnancy the stronger it’ll be afterwards which will help with a quicker recovery. New mums are very active and will require strong arms and back too to support with lifting, carrying, bending forwards, pushing pushchairs etc. Pilates will remind you of good posture and alignment to prevent imbalances and bad habits.
Things to avoid during class
Lying on your front or back from the 2nd trimester onwards
Overstretching – the hormone relaxin will make your ligaments looser so it is important not to over stretch your joints and ensure all joints are supported.
If your wrists ache in the hands/knees (box) position, inform your instructor and they will provide additional support or alternative options.
Before starting Pilates or any exercise classes during pregnancy that you check with your G.P. or midwife that the course is suitable for you.
Join our Pre & Post Natal Pilates Class
PATS PILATES run a Pre & Post Natal class, every Saturday at 10.15am. Suitable for women in their 2nd & 3rd trimester and 6 weeks postpartum. Along with the many benefits listed in this article, the class is a great way to meet other new Mums and have a little ‘me’ time.