If you find yourself pregnant and not sure what you can and can’t do with regards to exercises, then starting Pilates is a great low impact, strengthening workout that will keep you strong during your pregnancy but also prepare you for the demands of labour and motherhood.
Pilates involves a variety of movements that can be adapted to suit all stages of pregnancy. The movements are done in a controlled way and in a variety of positions such as standing, side lying, kneeling or on hands and knees. Although Pilates can adapt exercises to suit you, its important to listen to your body and stop if there is pain!
A specific prenatal Pilates class will ensure you work your whole body to build strength, and it will also help ensure you develop a more functional core connection by integrating breathe and pelvic floor through movement. This will better support your growing bump and also reduce the loading (from your growing bump) down in your pelvis.
Aim to do atleast 2 sessions of building strength per week and give yourself a rest day between these two sessions. If you are new to Pilates, keep the intensity low and build moderately. Your breathing will be able to help you with this, if you can talk through an exercise you are not overexerting. If you can’t talk then you may be over working and need to slow down a little.
Although Pilates is a fabulous exercise to start and continue through your pregnancy, there are a few things you should avoid;
First Trimester (1-12 weeks)
This is where you are at the most risk of a miscarriage. Pilates is a safe exercise to perform but the intensity must be lighter to avoid increase in body temperature and heart rate. Elevating too much can increase risk of a miscarriage. Although your bump may not show, I would recommend reducing the amount of ‘crunch’ type exercises and focus on pelvic floor and a more integrated functional approach to core strength.
Second Trimester (13-26 weeks)
Third Trimester (27 weeks to birth)
During this trimester, your baby may an increased growth spurt and this can cause more of a dramatic posture change. Its important in pilates during this stage to focus on reducing the pressure of the lower back and doing more stretching and back strengthening exercises.
I hope this helps to put you at ease that being active and healthy throughout your pregnancy is so important for mind and body. I hope you find doing Pilates regularly helps to support you and build strength and confidence throughout your pregnancy.