Pilates is a full-body exercise system that is great for the ever-changing pregnant body.
With a deep emphasis on your breath, Pilates balances strength, agility, and flexibility to support your body structure.
With its large repertoire of exercises, there are numerous possibilities and modifications for every stage of pregnancy – regardless of whether you are new to the method.
Every pregnancy is a unique experience, so a typical Pilates practice is not suitable for most pregnant women. You need an instructor who specializes in (or has developed a program for) pre- and postnatal Pilates training.
Prenatal Pilates prepares you for labor and delivery, prepares you for recovery, promotes pelvic floor health, and helps prevent or treat diastasis recti (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).
Read on to learn more about the benefits of exercising Pilates while pregnant, as well as tips on how to incorporate it into your routine.
Studies have shown that physical activity carries minimal risk during a healthy pregnancy (1).
With its little effect on stabilizing the joints, Pilates can eliminate or treat many of the typical pregnancy-related pains (5, 6).
However, you should always consult a pregnant woman doctor before starting or continuing any exercise program during pregnancy.
Some conditions can make pregnancy a high risk, such as: B. certain heart and lung diseases, placenta previa or diseases that can lead to premature labor. In these cases, most, if not all, of the exercises are contraindicated.
Physiologically, a lot happens when you bring up a person.
The pregnant body experiences increased blood volume, heart rate, and cardiac output, which make you feel short of breath.
Pilates breathing not only calms the nervous system, thereby lowering blood pressure, but also helps build the stamina necessary for the mental and emotional strength of childbirth and childbirth (1, 2, 7).
Pilates has been shown to aid postpartum recovery and reduce the rate of caesarean sections (also known as caesarean sections or caesarean sections), obstetric procedures, episiotomies, and preeclampsia (1, 2, 3).
With an emphasis on the abdomen, back and pelvic floor, prenatal Pilates increases body awareness and prepares you for the press. It relieves back pain and has been shown to help you fall asleep (1, 2, 3, 6).
In addition, the diaphragmatic breathing involved and the coordination of the breath with movement patterns are also beneficial.
But Pilates and exercise are not only good for mom, babies also benefit!
If a pregnant person continues to exercise safely during pregnancy, their baby will be less prone to certain diseases and will benefit from jump-starting brain growth and development (8, 9).
Studies have shown that Pilates offers numerous benefits during pregnancy, both for those who may have previously been sedentary and avid exercisers (1).
Due to blood flow and airway changes during pregnancy, it’s important to stay hydrated and avoid overheating.
Your body prepares for a growing baby and eventual birth by producing hormones that relax the connective tissue around the joints.
This increased mobility and flexibility, as well as a changing center of gravity as the baby grows, can exacerbate misalignments and previous injuries.
Fortunately, Pilates helps address, manage, and alleviate these concerns while providing you with a challenging workout at the same time.
Still, each stage of pregnancy has its own guidelines, and there are some exercises that are better for staying after the pregnancy.
The first trimester is the beginning of a journey during which your body begins to work hard internally to prepare for the baby. When your uterus expands and hormonal changes begin, it usually sets in fatigue, nausea, or both.
Most Pilates exercises can still be performed at this stage; However, it is important to listen to your body to avoid overexertion. This is not the time to move your practice forward.
Just think. Breath work can calm the mind and reduce anxiety while oxygenating and energizing your body.
The Pilates repertoire for strengthening the back of the body (think of the glutes and hamstrings) counteracts the incipient anterior pelvic tilt. Pay attention to your range of motion and try not to move through the end of your joints with your newfound flexibility.
This is usually the feel-good phase of pregnancy, when tiredness and nausea have subsided and a growing bump is more visible. Your center of gravity shifts and challenges your balance, stamina and coordination.
Lying on your back should be reduced to a minimum. The uterus can compress the vena cava (a large vein) and restrict blood flow to your baby.
To modify the exercises, supportive props can be added to raise the upper body, the reformer can be raised at an angle (which also increases the difficulty of the footwork), and there are plenty of side reclining exercises to strengthen and stabilize your body.
Full planks and bent forward abdominal exercises increase intra-abdominal pressure, which contributes to diastasis recti (separation of the abdominal muscles) and additional downward pressure on the pelvic floor muscles.
It’s best to avoid these exercises for now – don’t worry, there are plenty of other ways to strengthen your core.
Prenatal Pilates focuses on activating the transverse abdominal muscles, which wrap around your torso like a corset and make you feel like you are “hugging” the baby while lifting the pelvic floor muscles.
Still, it’s just as important to relax both your pelvic floor and abs. Overly cramped or overactive muscles can lead to pelvic floor dysfunction.
For obvious reasons, all prone (face down on your stomach) exercises must be avoided at this stage. Instead, modifications can be made to replicate abdominal exercises.
If you haven’t already been working with a trainer who is trained in prenatal Pilates, this is the time to start. Some of the above modifications require expert knowledge, and their expertise will assist you in choosing appropriate substitutes for contraindicated exercise.
As you progress in the third trimester, the energy from the second trimester begins to wane as your bump gets bigger.
The guidelines from the second trimester are still relevant, with a focus on both contraction work and reverse kegel exercises to relax and loosen the pelvic floor muscles, as well as a full range of motion during the movements.
This is the phase when you should focus on preparing for the birth.
An ever larger bump can exaggerate the curves of the spine, circle the shoulders forward, and pull the lower back towards the lordosis. Pilates exercises that open the front of the body wider and strengthen the back are still vital.
At this point in your pregnancy journey, you may feel that you will benefit most from gentle mobility and stretching.
Try not to put too much pressure on yourself during this time to get stronger or meet other fitness goals. Your body is already preparing for the greatest sporting event of its life.
Your body does a lot of work during pregnancy – this is not the time to move your practice forward or move it forward. It is an opportunity to tune into your body, listen, and let it guide you.
Stop exercising and contact your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- vaginal bleeding
- unusual shortness of breath
- stomach pain
- regular painful labor
- Chest pain
- Amniotic fluid leakage
- Calf pain or swelling
By following these guidelines, you can get the most out of your prenatal Pilates program.
- Always work with an instructor who has extensive prenatal training.
- Wear light, comfortable clothing.
- Remember to consult a doctor or pelvic floor physiotherapist before starting.
- Avoid holding your breath.
- Hot Pilates or exercising in hot and humid conditions is inappropriate.
- Always have snacks on hand and stay hydrated.
- The use of specialized equipment such as the Reformer or Cadillac / Tower (especially in the later months) provides resistance training and more comfortable positioning due to their height from the floor.
- When using the Pilates Reformer, consider heavier springs for extra support during exercises when the sled is supporting you, and lighter springs for exercises that involve pushing the weight.
- Take your time when you get off the floor.
- Relaxing the pelvic floor muscles and abdominal muscles is just as important as tensing them.
- If possible, allow time after the session so that you don’t have to hurry. Recovery is just as important as exercising.
- Your joints are looser, so be careful not to overstretch yourself.
- Have fun and try to stay in tune with your body.
Pilates has been shown to reduce the number of caesarean sections, interventions, and perineal cuts, and to help treat or eliminate the typical pain associated with pregnancy.
Pilates can support every phase of pregnancy, childbirth and the puerperium. Whether you are a beginner or an avid athlete, a qualified trainer can tailor the training to your needs and still challenge you safely.