Doing Pilates for Prenatal Health
By: Stephanie Ruopp
The truth is, mindful movement is strongly recommended during pregnancy. It’s for this reason that so many women have discovered the benefits of doing Pilates for prenatal health.
Pilates and pregnancy are the perfect combination. Pilates builds the core and strengthens the pelvic floor, along with the abdominal and back muscles. All of this leads to a more comfortable pregnancy and delivery.
What Is Different About Prenatal Pilates?
Another aspect of Pilates that makes it so amazing during pregnancy is its adaptability. Prenatal Pilates exercises are modified to adjust to changes in a pregnant woman’s body.
As a woman’s body shifts to accommodate a growing baby, things can get thrown out of whack. In addition, the production of hormone relaxin increases to loosen ligaments in preparation for delivery. The major drawback is that this also leads to joint instability.
Given all of this, prenatal Pilates is a practice of modifications. For example, flexion and rotation against gravity are generally avoided – particularly when lying on the back. And there are no poses that involve lying on the stomach. These are just a few of the modifications.
All of the modifications in prenatal Pilates though work toward building stability against muscular imbalances from the growing baby. They foster a deeper connection with breath control and mechanics in an effort to make breathing more comfortable during pregnancy while maintaining connection to the pelvic floor and deep core muscles. This proves to be extremely helpful during labor and delivery.
The Importance of Skilled Instruction
As great as prenatal Pilates is, you’ll want to check with your doctor or midwife before you begin searching for classes. Plus, it is NOT recommended that you begin doing Pilates on your own – especially if you’re brand new to it.
That said, even if you HAVE done Pilates before and have a grasp on the fundamentals, it’s still essential you find prenatal Pilates class led by qualified instructors who are able to provide individualized attention.
A woman’s center of gravity shifts during pregnancy and there is a forced mindfulness that comes with this shift. Plus, the aforementioned hormonal changes during pregnancy deem it essential to avoid injury from over-stretching. As such, a Pilates instructor will likely recommend a smaller range of motion so the expectant mother can tune into the more subtle aspects of movement.
In addition, women with the common condition known as diastasis recti that sometimes occurs later in pregnancy will also want to modify carefully with their instructor.
Moving Into the Second and Third Trimesters
Modifications really begin to take shape at the second trimester.
Because there is the risk of obstructing blood supply to the baby, exercises done while lying flat on the back are no longer recommended. And any movement where the feet go over the head is avoided. The feet can be propped up, but the hips must stay grounded.
It’s also at this point when instructors encourage a stronger and deeper connection with the core muscles – incorporating appropriate movements that avoid coning or bulging in the abdominals while managing intra-abdominal pressure. This will help prevent more exaggerated diastasis recti and pelvic floor dysfunction.
By the third trimester, achieving balance in single leg exercises becomes increasingly challenging. Either a chair or other support is added, or single leg exercises are swapped out for bilateral ones. In both situations, the emphasis is on building strength and stability that will be crucial throughout the pregnancy and even after.
It’s important to note that although modifications can be made through all three trimesters, women with high risk complications or issues should always consult with their physician or obstetrician about what is safe and appropriate.
How Often Should You Do Prenatal Pilates?
There’s no one right answer to this. It’s highly individual.
Listening to your body is really the most important thing you can do during pregnancy. When you’re able to do that, you’ll know exactly how much movement you need and for how long.
One day you may be up for a 40-minute workout while the next day, 10 minutes could be plenty. Whatever the case, you’ll still be partaking in the daily movement that’s recommended as part of a healthy pregnancy.
So it’s ALL good.
Interested In Pilates For Prenatal Health?
Doing Pilates is a great way to keep your core and pelvic floor strong to aid in your pregnancy. As we mentioned above, though, it’s important that you work with only highly trained and skilled instructors who understand the unique modifications required for prenatal Pilates.
So if you’re pregnant and would like to see how Pilates can help you, contact us today. Our instructors are well-versed in Pilates for prenatal health and are happy to consult with you about your specific needs.