Pregnancy Pilates: Why You Should Be Doing It!
Bun in the oven? Up the duff? Knocked up? Bacon in the drawer? (who knew this was a pregnancy euphemism?! Mmm, bacon.)
This one is for you.
Today we have (thankfully) cast off the shackles of historical medical recommendations that saw women eating more and doing less when expecting (hello, generational obesity!). In 2017, we’re more empowered by and committed to healthy lifestyle choices as part of the pregnancy journey. After all, healthy Mum means healthy baby!
Most women are aware that Pilates is up there on the list of medically approved, safe exercise formats for pregnancy.
But why should you be doing it?
In a nutshell, the emphasis on physical awareness (proprioception), breath and mindfulness means Pilates is a great way for Mums-to-be to connect with and make sense of their changing bodies, manage stress, and strengthen key muscle groups.
We’ve explored the top 10 reasons why you should be doing Pilates during pregnancy!
- Pilates for all!
The beauty of Pilates is accessibility! PFI’s antenatal classes are specifically tailored to the physical needs of the pregnant body; prior experience in Pilates is not needed, and exercises are scalable in response to fitness level and pregnancy complications.
- Smart strengthening
Pilates offers pregnant women precise and systematic conditioning, making for a smart and rewarding work out!
During pregnancy, our bodies are flooded with a hormone called relaxin which makes the ligaments that connect muscle to bone more flexible (all in preparation for child birth!).
In the meantime, having all this extra flexibility can make you more vulnerable to injury; pelvic, hip and lower back pain.
The solution is to strengthen the “right” muscles. In Pilates, we can counter this laxity by focusing in on the deep abdominal muscles (transverse abdominals or TAs) and glute muscles to improve stability in the pelvic region, reduce pain and protect from injury.
- Bye bye back pain
Hello again, transverse abdominals! During pregnancy, strong deep abdominals mean less back pain. It’s that simple.
Safely engaging these muscles is important, but it can be challenging! In class, we learn how to engage the deep abdominals without creating pressure elsewhere in the abdominals, which can contribute to abdominal separation (diastasis recti).
(Keep an eye out for our blog on abdominal separation and how Pilates can help!)
- Postural perfection
The bigger baby gets, the more gravity can work against us, causing the body to slump and pull forward.
Pilates helps to develop improved awareness of posture and strengthen the postural muscles that will keep you upright for longer while also taking pressure off common pain points (neck, shoulders, lower back).
- Targeted pelvic floor conditioning
Be kind to your pelvic floor. It’s yours for life!
Relaxin plus the weight of your growing baby can weaken your pelvic floor muscles over nine months. In Pregnancy Pilates, we incorporate pelvic floor exercises into classes to condition this “hammock” of muscle to engage and release effectively and with control.
Why? Because a healthy pelvic floor:
- Reduces the likelihood of incontinence during and after pregnancy.
- Reduces the likelihood of prolapse of the bowel, uterus and bladder.
- Helps with efficient delivery!
- Aids recovery from birth.
- Breathe better
The breath is a fundamental Pilates principle and we reference and work with it in classes across the board.
Learning how to breathe properly (seems so obvious, doesn’t it?!) is particularly useful for pregnant women because good air exchange is important for:
- General antenatal wellbeing.
- To manage stress.
- Reduce stiffness in the upper back and ribs.
- Safely strengthen TAs and obliques.
- Pain management in labour.
Getting oxygen deep into your system is also great for baby! (Watch foetal movement pick up during and after class!)
- Maintain healthy weight
Doing regular exercise, like Pregnancy Pilates, can help maintain healthy weight gain in pregnancy. In our classes, we work to condition the right muscles to support you through pregnancy, while also getting your heart rate up. It’s a whole body work out!
(Pregnancy & Post Natal Barre Attack classes are also available for those who want to get a real sweat up!)
- Leg strength
Our legs get a raw deal during pregnancy: fluid retention, cramps, varicose veins and a whole lot of extra weight. \
So, it makes sense to do whatever we can to keep them strong! Leg conditioning during pregnancy not only reduces the risk of the side effects listed above, but strong legs help us to push efficiently during childbirth!
At PFI we are not shy about squats, in fact, we love them! Supported squats are a safe way to work the deep abdominals and practice good posture, all while getting a nice burn in the thighs. Get ready to squat your way to labour day, ladies!
- Relaxation (with a capital “R”)
Pilates gives you an opportunity to let the mind slow and tune in with your changing body.
Pregnancy Pilates can help you to:
- Cope better with stress.
- Reduce anxiety.
- Relive tension from body and mind, equally.
- Reduce fatigue.
- Sleep better.
- Feel strong in your pregnancy!
- Recover faster
Pregnancy Pilates will not only keep you strong for life with baby, but it also encourages quicker recovery from birth.
Ideally, consult with your doctor before starting any antenatal exercise program. PFI Instructors are experienced in working with the pregnant body and the broad selection of complications and limitations that can arise. Always feel free to chat with your Instructor before or after class.
Private, Studio sessions may be a good option in addition to or in place of, group Pregnancy classes – depending on your physical needs.
Three to five Studio sessions, working one on one with a specialist Instructor, can help map out pain points, and equip you with the right tools, awareness, and alignment for your pregnancy journey. (Skills you can take into your group classes and everyday life!)
For more information on Pregnancy Pilates classes, phone (08) 9330 8900.