Should You Do Pilates After 12 Weeks of Pregnancy?
If you’re a Pilates practitioner, you surely know of its many benefits.
But if you recently found out you’re pregnant or you’re thinking about getting pregnant, you might be wondering if it’s still okay to do Pilates. The short answer is yes.
There are caveats, however. Especially when it comes to doing Pilates after 12 weeks of pregnancy. We’ll take a look at the whole kit and caboodle here.
How Pilates Helps During Pregnancy
Pilates puts an emphasis on the abs, back, and pelvic floor. When practicing prenatal Pilates, you will increase body awareness in these areas which will help prepare you for pushing.
You’ll also experience increased heart rate, cardiac output, and blood volume. This means you’re likely to get out of breath more quickly and with less effort.
Fortunately, the breath is a focal point in Pilates. The breathing performed in this practice helps to calm the nervous system, lower blood pressure, and build the stamina and strength you’ll need for delivery. An added bonus is improved sleep – which is much needed as the baby continues to develop and grow.
Pregnant women who practice Pilates also have lower incidences of cesarean deliveries, preeclampsia, episiotomies, and other birth interventions.
Pilates even benefits the developing baby! In fact, any exercise safely performed during pregnancy will boost brain growth in the fetus and make it less susceptible to certain illnesses.
Safely is the keyword here though.
The First 12 Weeks
As your body starts preparing to accommodate another human life, it will produce hormones that help relax the connective tissues. As a result, you’ll have more mobility and flexibility in your joints. Your center of gravity will also change as the baby continues to grow. All of these shifts increase the likelihood of exacerbating previous injuries and misalignments. Luckily, Pilates addresses and alleviates these concerns.
During the first 12 weeks (first trimester), you’ll be able to perform most Pilates exercises but you’ll need to really pay attention to your body’s needs. The movements that strengthen the glutes and hamstrings will counteract any anterior pelvic tilt that’s beginning. Furthermore, the breath work will calm your the mind and reduce anxiety.
After 12 weeks, the game changes.
Pilates After 12 Weeks
Once you enter the second semester, you’ll start to feel the fatigue and nausea from the first trimester lift. Meanwhile, your center of gravity will continue to shift. At this stage, you may feel empowered and ready to take on any exercise.
However, it’s important at this stage to shift to prenatal Pilates. This means either finding specific prenatal classes, or working privately with instructors trained in prenatal Pilates. They can offer expert modifications and suitable replacements for contraindicated exercises.
An experienced prenatal Pilates instructor will ensure you spend very little time on your back so as not to compress the vena cava that supplies blood to the baby.
You’ll also be restricted from doing any full planks or forward-flexing abdominal exercises to reduce the risk of diastasis recti (separation of abdominals). Other safer core-strengthening exercises will be substituted. All prone (lying facedown on your stomach) positions will also be modified.
And once you move into the third trimester, everything from the second trimester will apply, but there’s an additional emphasis on contraction work and reverse Kegels to release and relax the pelvic floor.
As your belly grows, you’ll be inclined to round your shoulders and pull your lower back toward lordosis (excessive inward curvature of the spine). Gentle movements that open up the front of the body and focus on mobility and stretching at this point will counteract these.
At the end of the day, prenatal Pilates teaches you how to activate the transverse abdominals that wrap around your torso, while simultaneously lifting the pelvic floor muscles. It also emphasizes the importance of relaxing these muscles as well so as not to contribute to pelvic floor dysfunction.
You Don’t Need to Quit Your Practice
Obviously, Pilates is a hugely beneficial practice throughout your whole pregnancy. You just need to take extra precautions and work with a prenatal instructor when doing Pilates after 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Contact us today to get started on your prenatal Pilates journey. We’ll make sure you and your baby are safe every step of the way.