Pilates and Pregnancy
Pilates is a great way for many women to keep in shape by staying toned and flexible. However, with all the changes of pregnancy, some pregnant women may wonder if it’s a safe exercise, given their special needs. Many fitness experts agree that not only is pilates safe to practice during pregnancy, but it is actually one of the best exercises for pregnant women because it is low impact and adaptable.
Exercise throughout pregnancy has many benefits, which are good for both the mother and the developing baby. Many studies show that women who exercised during pregnancy gave birth to children who were more likely to be leaner and suffer fewer health problems throughout their childhood.
Here are some of the benefits of practicing pilates during pregnancy:
- Increases energy
- Improves muscle tone and strength, which will make labor easier and speed recovery
- Improves balance and align posture
- Strengthens pelvic floor
- Decreases back pain
- Helps regulate hormones, especially stress hormones
- Stabilizes mood
Each woman will respond in different ways, but in general, practicing pilates will help improve overall well-being and fitness so that you can expect to have an easier delivery and a faster recovery after childbirth.
Because of the changes that take place during pregnancy, a pilates practice will need to include some modifications to prevent the risk of injury.
Exercises that involve laying on the stomach or flat on the back should be avoided near the end of the first trimester and after. Laying on the stomach will put too much pressure on the increasing abdomen, and laying on the back can risk cutting off blood flow to the baby and the placenta. Exercises should be done seated, standing, on your knees, or lying on your side.
Avoid any jerky movements. Your body is changing and ligaments and tendons are moving, so any intense or sudden movements can cause injury or pain.
Do not do deep stretches. In pregnancy, a hormone called relaxin is released which allows for muscles, tendons, and ligaments to move and grow. Therefore, it may be more difficult to assess how far your body can safely stretch as it will be able to stretch farther than it normally could. You risk overstretching or pulling a muscle. In general, if you feel any pain, nausea, dizziness, blurred vision, or headache, you should stop what you’re doing and rest.
With some pregnancy specific changes and variations, regular pilates sessions can make the pregnancy, the labor and the recovery, so much easier and enjoyable!