Pilates during Pregnancy - is it right for you?
This is a question I get asked a lot so I wanted to write a little bit about pre-natal Pilates and its many benefits!
In the absence of medical or obstetric complications and with a doctor’s clearance, Pilates is a great low impact and low intensity exercise option for ladies before, during and after pregnancy.
Here are a few of the reasons why!
PROMOTES GOOD POSTURE AND REDUCES BACK PAIN
As your body is growing and changing, your posture can be compromised. Extra pressure on your pelvis and back can cause your hips to tighten and increase your chance of back pain. A growing belly and general fatigue can also cause your shoulders and head to slump forward which can throw your posture severely out of whack.
To counteract these effects on your posture, Pilates will strengthen all of the muscles in your body that weaken with poor posture and stretch out those muscles in your body that become tight with poor posture.
Starting Pilates early on in pregnancy is ideal as you support your body as it begins to make all of these changes that can be detrimental to your posture and also assist you to bounce back quicker post baby.
STRENGTHENS YOUR PELVIC FLOOR MUSCLES
As a result of the hormone relaxin, and extra weight weighing down on your pelvis, your pelvic floor ‘sling’ can weaken which can cause pain and incontinence. Learning how to engage your pelvic floor muscles in Pilates will not only strengthen your pelvic floor in preparation for labour, it will also help prevent incontinence post baby and speed up your recovery.
I HIGHLY recommend reading ‘Women’s Waterworks’ by Pauline E. Chiarelli. It is a great read that summarises everything you need to know about pelvic floor pre and post pregnancy. I have read it and recommend it to all of my female clients regardless of whether they have had a baby or not.
STRENGTHENS YOUR GLUTES
With all of the postural changes that occur as a result of your belly growing, along with general fatigue that you may experience, extra loading on your hips can cause back and pelvic pain.
By strengthening your glutes (butt muscles), it will help counteract the extra weight you have at the front of your body, which will help to support your back and improve your posture.
IMPROVES YOUR PHYSICAL AND MENTAL WELLBEING AND HELP YOU COPE WITH THE CHANGES IN YOUR BODY
There is no doubt that regular exercise is a powerful medicine. It can boost our mood, give us more energy and improve our overall physical health and reduce our chances of chronic illness. During pregnancy, regular exercise has the ability to reduce common pregnancy discomforts such as constipation, bloating, swelling, back pain and postural discomforts and can also increase energy levels and help improve sleep. Pretty amazing, right?
Attending Pilates classes throughout your pregnancy is also a great way to take time out for yourself, socialise and feel great about your body and the amazing job it is doing at creating a child!
THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE STARTING PILATES:
If you are pregnant and considering taking up Pilates, it is important to be aware that many Pilates exercises are no longer appropriate for you. It is important to attend a specific pre- natal Pilates class or make sure that the instructor is qualified to train pre and post natal women and can alter exercises accordingly depending on your stage of pregnancy. It is also important to gain a medical clearance to exercise before you start!
Below are a few tips if you are thinking about taking up Pilates during pregnancy:
Drink plenty of water and eat 1-1.5 hours before a class
Shift positions frequently when exercising
Get into and out of exercises slowly
Pay attention to your body and the baby
Gradually increase your exercise program or the number of classes you attend if you were previously sedentary
Always stop if you feel any pain
Make sure you don’t over stretch as you already have relaxin running through your body
If you are pregnant and considering Pilates or already doing pregnancy Pilates, I hope you found this useful! Remember to always go with what feels right for you and make sure you speak to your instructor regularly and let them know how you’re feeling.
Owner of Duo Pilates