You might have heard that Pilates is great for expecting mothers or seen social media posts about celebrities attending pregnancy Pilates classes—but why exactly is the exercise so popular among soon-to-be moms?
A gentle, low-impact, but highly effective form of exercise, Pilates is beneficial for individuals whose bodies are constantly changing to accommodate their unborn baby. Read on to find out more.
Physical Changes Expecting Mothers Experience
If you’re handling an uncomplicated pregnancy, we recommend that you keep active and regularly engage in physical activity. By working to improve your muscle tone, you can ease your body through the countless physical changes happening during pregnancy.
Some of these changes include the production of relaxin, a hormone that causes unstable joints. Additionally, your growing foetus becomes increasingly heavy, thus altering your centre of gravity. This change may hurt your posture and muscle patterns. As such, you are more likely to experience back and neck pain.
Prenatal Pilates and Benefits
Prenatal Pilates helps expecting mothers adapt to physical transitions by stabilising and strengthening their abdominal muscles, back, and pelvic floor.
Pilates improves your core muscles, hamstrings, and deep gluteal muscles’ ability to provide muscular support. Therefore, less pressure will be placed on your joints, resulting in less maladaptive muscle patterns and reduced back and neck aches.
Additionally, Pilates stretches and strengthens your trunk muscles, thus helping you carry the extra weight of your growing foetus. Exercises also help alleviate the pressure from your baby on the pelvic floor, thus reducing the occurrence of urinary incontinence, which is common before and after giving birth.
Moreover, pregnant individuals often feel short of breath due to increased blood volume, heart rate, and cardiac output. As Pilates focuses on breathing, it can help to soothe the nervous system and lower blood pressure.
Another common condition that occurs in pregnancy is diastasis recti. Over time, expecting mothers’ tummy muscles are stretched; while the gap eventually recovers for some women, other women’s rectus abdominis remain separated. Pilates trains the core stabiliser muscle, which acts like a corset to prevent the overstretch of the rectus abdominis.
Practising Pilates During Pregnancy
Pilates exercises engage the entire body, working out the core muscles that are essential for a comfortable prenatal experience and delivery.
As it is a low-impact exercise, it is uncommon to get hurt during Pilates. However, to ensure maximum safety, it is best to perform Pilates exercises under the supervision of an experienced instructor. It is also best to consult your doctor before partaking in any exercise program.
Furthermore, after about 12 weeks of gestation, you should not engage in exercises that require you to lie on your back, as your uterus may compress the vena cava, obstructing blood flow to your growing baby. Fortunately, Pilates is versatile, with many exercises done in a sitting position or while lying on your side.
We also recommend that you stay hydrated, refrain from overheating, and listen to your body—stop exercising if you feel uncomfortable. If you experience symptoms such as vaginal bleeding, unusual shortness of breath, dizziness and headaches, chest pain, or regular painful contractions, you should consult your doctor immediately.
Pilates is the perfect way to stay active during your pregnancy. By practising regularly, you can reduce your back and neck pain while preparing your body for labour and delivery.