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Pilates in Pregnancy
By Isabella Woods, Guest Blogger
Walking, swimming and yoga are popular exercises during pregnancy, but so too is pilates, and it can help in a number of ways. With pilates you’ll strengthen your muscles to develop a stable core which will stand you in good stead not just during pregnancy, but after, too. And while we can’t promise that practicing pilates during pregnancy will get you back into shape as quick as Victoria Beckham, we can assure you, regular pilates sessions will help with minor pregnancy niggles and complaints and let you enjoy exercise without putting your body under too much stress or strain.
How will pilates help me in pregnancy?
During pregnancy, your body goes through lots of changes. Your stomach and pelvic floor muscles feel more strain as your body grows to make space for the baby growing inside you. And while this is all going on, your hormones are going into overdrive – especially in the first trimester – and the pregnancy hormone relaxin will make the ligaments that connect your bones more pliable. With that in mind, it’s important to do exercise that doesn’t put you at risk of overloading your body and injuring yourself, so gentle exercise like pilates is perfect.
Pilates zones in on the stomach, back and pelvic floor muscles without working other parts of your body too hard. In fact, it specifically targets the stomach muscles that are vital in stabilizing your back and pelvis. And as many pilates exercises are done on your hands and knees it’s a great way of taking away pressure from your back and pelvis – especially useful towards the end of your pregnancy when the growing bump will really be taking its toll on your body.
Pilates can also help when it comes to balance. For instance, when you get up from your recliner, you may find that you’re a little less stable on your feet. This isn’t usually anything to worry about, as it’s probably down to the fact that your body is changing shape and you just need to adjust to a new posture. Also, as your baby bump continues to grow you may find walking a little harder – the swaying from side to side feeling is common in pregnancy – but again, pilates could help with these minor issues and help with improving your balance.
What sort of class should I attend?
During pregnancy it is important you attend classes that are aimed at pregnant women. Other pilates classes could be too strenuous for a mum to be so it’s vital you research classes in your area that are aimed at pregnant women.
If there are no specific pilates classes for pregnant women then you could attend a regular pilates class but make sure you take note of the following –
- Tell your pilates practitioner you are pregnant at the start of the class as they will be able to tell you which exercises are safe for you to do and those which are not.
- Avoid pilates positions that spend a lot of time lying on your back or stomach, or standing on one leg as these aren’t good for women who are more than four month’s pregnant.
- If you have carpal tunnel syndrome – or experience pain when resting on your wrists – speak to your instructor who may well get you to use an exercise ball instead.
Are there any other benefits?
Exercise doesn’t just improve your physical well-being, it is also well known that regular exercise can improve mental health, too. During pregnancy, because the body is so prone to hormonal change, this is a definite plus point of doing regular pilates workouts.
What’s more, if you do decide to attend a pilates class for pregnant mums, you’re likely to not only improve your health, but also widen your social network and meet women in the same situation as you. During pregnancy it’s particularly important to have a good group of people to support you through this life-changing situation, so the benefits of attending a pilates exercise class are two-fold.
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