You’ve just found out you’re pregnant and are wondering what you can do to best serve your body?
Congratulations – not just for the joy of becoming a mum, but for wanting what’s best for you. If you are a woman who embraces the idea of self-help through healing movement you will appreciate the many benefits of a Pilates practice.
The Benefits of Pilates during Pregnancy
Your experience of being pregnant will involve enormous physical and emotional changes. Knowing how to use and adapt the Pilates techniques to breathe, move and relax will help you to establish a strong body foundation for your pregnancy and in the years of parenting to come.
Pregnancy is a time more than ever to listen to your body. Pilates allows for a movement experience that brings a calm strength and inner balance. Both of these assets are important for the challenges that lie ahead.
Women that exercise during pregnancy generally have:
reduced weight gain
a faster weight loss after pregnancy
improved sleeping patterns
a happier state of mind
They can also more easily find movement strategies to bring them relief from the increasing load of the pregnancy.
Pilates strengthens, tones and lengthens
A Pilates program is ideally suited to pregnant women as it is adaptable to the changing pregnant body’s needs throughout each trimester. As the baby grows, Pilates is used to strengthen, tone and lengthen and make more space for the baby.
During pregnancy the pelvic floor and deep abdominal muscles require specific training to provide the uterus and other organs with an optimal support. Deep breathing and Pilates exercises prepare these muscles to become “birthing muscles” by developing their elasticity.
Deep breathing and Pilates exercises prepare the “birthing muscles” to develop their elasticity.
Your goal is to “birth lightly” – by using the breath to control the pelvic floor muscles and increase the efficacy of the uterine contractions. All this while the rest of your body remains relaxed.
As you make adjustments in your life for the new baby, your pace will adapt naturally. Slowing down is a good thing as you learn the power of micro-movements and in-depth relaxed stretching. As you learn to breathe more deeply, relax more completely and develop an astute awareness of your pelvic muscles a sense of inner calm develops. By being mindful of these techniques you can prepare your spine and the entire body for the changes of pregnancy.
Guidelines for a safe pregnancy
A well-designed Pilates program to suit pregnancy emphasises relaxation and the precautions for safety of the mother and baby. The following simple guidelines will help you to ensure this:
- Train with a certified Pilates Teacher experienced in instructing Pilates during pregnancy and the post-partum period.
- If you have been practising Pilates regularly prior to pregnancy, you will most likely be able to continue Pilates throughout pregnancy with the appropriate exercise modifications.
- Be sure to listen to your body. Your body communicates with you by giving signals when something should be changed. Take these signs on board and adapt the program accordingly.
- Take as many breaks as is necessary and drink fluids throughout the training session.
- Avoid exercising to maximum limits or to the point of exhaustion. Breathlessness should be avoided at all times as this signals the body isn’t getting the oxygen supply it needs.
- Due to the fetus pressing on the aorta and inferior vena cava in the second and third trimesters, avoid lying on your back for longer than 2-3 minutes at a time. In Pilates there is an equally effective alternative for you to move without lying on your back.
- Eat a healthy diet including plenty of fruits, vegetables and complex carbohydrates.
- Avoid hyperthermia (overheating)
- Inform your guiding OB-GYN of your intention to practice Pilates to be sure you have medical clearance.
Pilates exercise plays a significant role in promoting good health and well-being during pregnancy. Your body is producing a masterpiece and deserves your full commitment to nurturing it from the inside and out.
If the concepts of self-care and mindfulness are new to you, use your pregnancy as a time to discover and connect with your body.
There is hardly a better way to accomplish this other than with Pilates.