We know from various studies the benefits of exercise during pregnancy, and whilst keeping up with exercise might be the last thing on your mind whilst trying to deal with tiredness and nausea, there is no doubt that low impact exercise is beneficial.
Not only does it make you feel good but it will help you prepare your body for labour and see that you readily get back into your pre-pregnancy shape. Many Pilates exercises concentrate on strengthening the abdominal muscles and pelvic floors providing stability and support for lower back and allowing for efficient movement. Exercises can be modified to focus on individual needs and muscle groups.
With the abdominal muscles and pelvic floors being stretched and weakened during pregnancy, support to the back is greatly reduced increasing the chance of injury. Add in the pregnancy hormone Relaxin, which is designed to soften ligaments and allow the pelvis to stretch and the chance of injury or lower back pain is greatly increased. Pilates is an ideal exercise during pregnancy as it is designed to strengthen the deep abdominal and pelvic floor muscles therefore adding strength and stability. These exercises can be performed in various safe positions that are suitable for women at any stage of her pregnancy.
What are the benefits of doing Pilates before birth?
- Increased body awareness with better posture
- Improved control and strength of pelvic floor region.
- Supports joints and ligaments that may be compromised with increasing strain from developing baby
- Develops flexibility and muscular endurance as the body tries to adjust itself when normal movement patterns are altered
- Relieves common problems associated with pregnancy such as backache, thoracic pain, sciatica, ligament pain, and pubic symphysis pain
- Makes it easier for pelvic floor to release in those crucial latter stages of giving birth
- Speeds up recovery after birth
- Push yourself too much – your body is working hard enough already
- Indulge in excessive abdominal work – it is advised not to do any rectus abdominus work after the first trimester
- Over-stretch – your ligaments are vulnerable to injury
- Lie on your back for too long as it may compromise the baby’s growth
- Place excessive load on the pelvis or sacroiliac joint when performing unilateral work of the lower limbs.
General Pilates classes may not be suitable for the pregnant women as prenatal Pilates programs should be designed to suit the individual. Every woman has a different and unique experience of pregnancy, and some moves may prove risky when pregnant. Small classes using a variety of Pilates equipment is ideal for the pregnant women as they are safe and offer variety.