Pregnancy Pilates + Why Your Body Deserves It
Bun in the oven? Up the duff? Knocked up? Bacon in the drawer? (who knew this was a pregnancy euphemism?!)
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!). Today we are more empowered by and committed to healthy lifestyle choices as part of the pregnancy journey. After all, healthy Mum means a 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!
“Will I get enough of a work out?” and “Will it be too hard for me?” are two questions we get asked most frequently by pregnant clients.
Yes, and no; respectively.
The beauty of Pilates is its accessibility.
The scalable nature of the method means our Instructors can program to accommodate the physical needs of the pregnant body – in all trimesters, and can apply repertoire to progress and ease off exercises in response to clients’ needs and wants.
You don’t need to have done Pilates before, and you don’t need to be super fit or flexible to make a start with pregnancy Pilates! Our Instructors will meet you where you are.
- Smart strengthening
Pilates offers pregnant women precise and systematic conditioning, making for a smart and rewarding workout.
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 childbirth).
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
During pregnancy, strong deep abdominals (transverse abdominals) equate to less back pain. It’s that simple.
In the past we were told there was no such thing as “safe abdominal work” during pregnancy. But studies have shown it’s not an all or nothing situation! Safely engaging these muscles while pregnant can be challenging, but it is so important! In class, we learn how to access and strengthen the deep abdominals without creating pressure elsewhere in the abdomen, which can contribute to or exacerbate 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, pelvic floor exercises are built in to repertoire so we can functionally strengthen and condition this “hammock” of muscle to engage and release effectively and with control.
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 is particularly useful for pregnant women because good air exchange is important for:
- General antenatal wellbeing.
- Stress management.
- To 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! Just watch foetal movement pick up during and after class!
- Maintain healthy weight
Doing regular exercise, like Pregnancy Pilates, can help regulate 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 to safe levels. 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 in 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!
- 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 and empowered 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 the physical demands of your pregnancy.
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.