PILATES IS FANTASTIC DURING PREGNANCY.
There is a long list of reasons to maintain a Pilates practice during pregnancy, but here are 12 reasons why I believe that pilates is fantastic for pregnancy.
1. A stronger transverse abdominals,
Pregnant women should focus in on the Transverse Abdominis during pregnancy and not on the Rectus or what people see as the six pack muscles. This is where we modify our abdominal exercises to avoid separation and always include appropriate deep abdominal conditioning where the pregnant client is not laying flat on her back during her abdominal work. After 16 weeks we do not recommend that pregnant clients lay on their backs during abdominal exercises as this may impair blood flow to the uterus.
2. A stronger connection to the pelvic floor muscles
Most women have heard of “Kegel Exercises”, but don’t really understand the importance the Pelvic Floor during pregnancy. One of the main functions of the pelvic floor is to support the organs in the lower abdominal cavity. As the uterus grows it relies on the pelvic floor more and more for support, which is why it needs to be strengthened. The other thing is that the Pelvic Floor must completely relax to allow the baby to pass through.
Pilates helps women not only feel the contraction of the Pelvic Floor muscles but also the release, ensuring that it is both strong and flexible. A strong Pelvic Floor will also help the body return to its pre pregnancy state more quickly and prevents incontinence.
3. Better breath control
As the baby grows, the diaphragm is compressed up into the chest, and even though a woman’s lung capacity remains the same, it can feel increasingly harder to breathe. Pilates breathing helps the pregnant client to tap into her intercostal muscles to still feel able to take deep breaths. Pilates breathing also helps keep the thoracic spine (middle back) flexible, which can get very tight during pregnancy. Also, since each exercise in Pilates is associated with the breath connection it makes using the breath during labor much more accessible.
4. Less discomfort due to muscle & skeletal imbalances
As the baby grows the body has no choice but to adapt to make room. This of course means that posture and alignment will be compromised. While Pilates cannot stop this from happening, it can help to strengthen the stabilizing muscles, especially those surrounding the hips and pelvis to ensure less discomfort (especially in the low back) as the baby grows and also will help with balance issues.
5. A quicker recovery & return to pre-pregnancy body
The stronger the body is in pregnancy and throughout, the stronger it will be after. If women lose the connection to their abdominals as they stretch during pregnancy, it will be that much harder to reconnect after the birth. So much of being a mum involves lifting, bending over and time spent rounded forward (feeding, changing, pushing a stroller, etc) so strong arms and back are also important to prevent permanent tension, imbalances and bad habits.
6. Strengthen your stomach and gluteal muscles
A Hormone released during pregnancy called relaxin causes the ligaments that connect your bones to become more flexible, making you more prone to pelvic pain and lower back pain. Strengthening your deep abdominal muscles will help counter the laxity so you’re less likely to develop pain in your pelvis and lower back. Pilates is also great to strengthen your gluteus medius which helps minimise pain in your sacri-iliac joint (SIJ).
7. Reduces back pain
By strengthening the deep abdominal muscles you are less likely to develop back pain. Pilates also helps to give you better awareness of your posture, which tends to change your alignment and centre of gratify as your baby grows. Pilates helps to decrease pain in your back with this awareness of postural issues.
8. Improve balance
Due to the change in posture and where your weight is distributed you may feel more clumsy or unstable when pregnant. Pilates helps your balance by increasing your core strength and teaching you to be sensitive to these postural changes.
9. Maintain healthy weight
It is normal to gain weight throughout the pregnancy, however if a woman puts on more than the recommended weight she is at an increased risk of gestational diabetes. Doing regular, gentle exercise can help control a healthy weight gain throughout the pregnancy.
10. Strengthen the legs
During pregnancy some women experience fluid retention, leg cramps and may develop varicose veins. Strengthening exercises for the legs can help to reduce the risk of these side effects.
Taking some time for yourself during your pregnancy when there are a lot of changes happening all around (and inside) you is important. Pilates gives you an opportunity to switch off from work and day-to-day stresses and let the mind slow down while reflecting on the physiological changes in your body.
12. Speed up recovery after birth.
Keeping in shape through your pregnancy will help you to get back your pre-pregnancy body more easily!
There is a lot going on during pregnancy, so the most important thing to remember is that there will be lot of changes and it is crucial to respect these changes you and not to push yourself.
Make sure that you drink enough water to stay hydrated through your workout. Of course, consult your doctor before beginning any pre or post natal exercise regimen and make sure to work with a professional who has experience with pre and post natal clients.