Pilates for Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a time of significant change in a woman’s body. Over the 9-month gestational duration, the body will move through various physical and emotional changes in preparation for the coming birth. Supporting a healthy pregnancy includes a proper diet, mild to moderate exercise, and some stress management.
You can care for your body during pregnancy by practicing Pilates before and after delivery. Pilates is a form of no impact exercise that can strengthen your body to ease the delivery and speed your recovery. Pilates exercises can also be adjusted during the course of your pregnancy to meet the changing needs of an expecting mother. The benefits of Pilates include increased stability, breath control, and stress reduction, which can help you manage the life changes both during and after your pregnancy.
Beginning Prenatal Pilates
Before you begin any Pilates training during your pregnancy, it is important to seek the approval of your Medical Doctor to engage in an exercise program. If you are having an uncomplicated pregnancy, it is generally safe to perform mild to moderate exercise while pregnant.
You should inform your Pilates instructor that you are pregnant, so that any necessary modifications to the Pilates routine can be made. It is best to find a Pre-Natal Pilates class or an instructor who is experienced in providing guidance to pregnant women.This is especially important if you are starting Pilates for the first time during your pregnancy.
Pilates, Pregnancy, and Safety
There are significant physiological changes that occur in a woman’s body during pregnancy, and therefore additional pre-cautions are needed during Pilates training.
Protecting Your Joints
In addition to the physical changes in your size and shape during pregnancy, the hormonal system in your body is also changing in preparation for birth. During pregnancy, the hormone Relaxin increases in level by an order of magnitude to help open your joints for an easier delivery. Unfortunately, this also contributes to greater flexibility in all of your joints leading to joint instability. Therefore, it is important to avoid any physical movements with large ranges of motion, such as overstretching, which increase the possibility of injury.
As you approach the full term of the pregnancy, the enlargement of your abdomen will shift your center of gravity. Pilates can help strengthen your core muscles and limbs to provide increased stability; however, always be cautious during movement to prevent accidents.
During the progressive phases of the pregnancy, it will be necessary to adjust your Pilates routine. The Pilates instructor will often recommend changes for the exercises they are guiding you through. Remember to never over-exert yourself during pregnancy; if you cannot comfortably maintain a conversation during exercise, you are working too hard. When your belly begins to grow, avoid lying on your stomach; and after your 2nd trimester, do not perform any exercises while lying on your back, as this can obstruct the blood flow to the fetus. In general, stick with the simplest Pilates movements and enjoy your workout.
Benefits of Pilates During Pregnancy
Pilates can have an amazing impact on how good you feel during your pregnancy. Starting your Pilates practice during pregnancy can help your realize the following health benefits:
Improved Breath Control
One of the key principles of Pilates training is to learn to connect with your breath. Pregnancy can be a difficult time in your emotional life, so learning to relax more effectively can be an important tool. Breathing exercises can also help you learn to relax the body aiding delivery.
Stronger Abdominal Muscles
As your belly grows, so does the strain on your back. Strengthening the core muscles of the abdomen, hips, and lower back can prepare your body for these changes. It is best to avoid flexion exercises, such as sit-ups, during pregnancy as these types of exercises compress your abdomen. It is more important to strengthen the deeper stabilization muscles to support your additional weight.In addition, strength in these core muscles can help quicken your delivery.
Improved Stability During Movement
During Pilates training, you will cultivate balance, core strength, muscular control and efficiency of movement. These attributes will allow you to develop a greater sense of your own body during this unique time of physical change. Maintaining your connection to the body will improve physical stability and agility.
Pilates After Pregnancy
After you recover from the delivery, Pilates can be an ideal post-partum exercise routine.
Rebuilding the Body
Pilates exercises can be an effective training routine to help return your body to its pre-pregnancy shape. Even a short 20 min Pilates workout every other day can have a profound effect on recovering your body to your pre-pregnancy shape. The core strengthening exercises can flatten your stomach and help recover from diastasis recti, muscular separation of the abdomen.
If you had a cesarean during delivery, follow your doctor’s recommendations on when to begin exercising again. A C-section is a significant surgery to the abdomen and proper healing time should be allowed before resuming Pilates training.
Strength for Your Child
The physical strengthening of Pilates exercises can play an important part in your new motherhood. The additional strength of your core and limbs will assist in carrying your baby, cradling during breast-feeding, pushing the stroller, and even carrying around all the necessary baby accessories. Maintaining proper posture and avoiding poor body mechanics when lifting your growing child will help prevent strain and injury.
If you are confident in your ability to practice Pilates on your own, there are a variety of Pilates books and Pilates DVD videos that focus on Pilates routines for pre-natal and post-natal women.
Come out of your pregnancy in better shape then when you began and start practicing Pilates today. Search altMD to find a Piliates instructor or studio near you.