Pregnancy is a time of extraordinary changes for your body. Taking control through exercise empowers you to feel stronger, be more capable. Pilates connects you more deeply to your body while it makes you stronger, more flexible. You can find Pilates classes particularly for pregnant women so that you can benefit from the strengthening and conditioning benefits of Pilates from pregnancy, through labor, birth and recovery.
How Pilates Affects Your Pregnancy
Six things happen when you practice Pilates during pregnancy:
- Easier breathing
As the baby gets bigger, you’ll find it harder to breathe, especially take a deep breath. Your lung capacity hasn’t changed; baby is exerting upward pressure on your diaphragm. Pilates breathing techniques pull your rib cage out, letting your lungs expand sideways, allowing you a deeper, fuller breath. Breath is also important during labor. Pilates breathing will help you when the time comes for baby’s birth.
- Less discomfort
Pregnancy is uncomfortable! From indigestion, back aches and the emotional highs and lows, Pilates eases physical discomfort with its focus on posture and alignment. As baby grows, your muscles are taxed to support your belly and hold you upright. Pilates strengthens your hips, core and pelvis, stabilizing your lower back and improving posture. Ah, relief!
- Pelvic floor strengthening
Pelvic floor exercises are essential in pregnancy. The pelvic floor and core muscles strengthened during Pilates support your lower abdominal organs. More pressure is put on the pelvic floor as baby grows. Moms who practice Pilates in pregnancy say the exercises helped them feel both the contraction and release of the pelvic floor muscles during birth and postpartum.
- Supports birth
There comes a point for most women late in pregnancy when they realize that baby has got to come out somehow, and it’s not going to be easy. Being physically fit is going to make it easier, whether you birth normally or have to recover following cesarean. Birth requires stamina, which Pilates builds for the hours of labor ahead. Every single workout that you do before labor and birth is one that you’ll thank yourself for!
- Faster recovery
This is more than just “getting your body back.” What’s most important is that your body is healthy in recovery. You need strength and endurance even more so in recovery as you’re also caring for your newborn. That care requires bending and lifting with strong shoulders, arms and core muscles; it requires flexibility.
- Prepare for childcare
Because Pilates is a dynamic workout system, you get stronger in movement rather than in held positions. This means you’ll be prepared and have the strength to go through the moves and motions needed to carry, lift, hold, and care for your new baby. It’s important to note here that Pilates helps to prevent diastasis recti by improving the strength and tone of the transverse abdominis muscle. Unlike other workout regimens that focus on your “six pack,”Pilates works your entire core, helping to prevent this potentially serious postpartum complication in which the abdominal muscles don’t fully come back together.
Each pregnancy is different, so whether this is your first baby or your fifth, being strong and physically fit before and during pregnancy is going to make the whole process easier and get you to feeling great faster so that you can take care of that little one.
Know your limits
Your body has limits during pregnancy to keep you and baby safe:
- Avoid lying on your back—this puts undue pressure on your spine, back and blood vessels
- Always stand on both legs—your risk of falling increases as your balance is challenged
- Avoid putting your weight on your wrists and hands—use an exercise ball or other tool to support your weight
- Move slowly through stretches in your normal range of motion—during pregnancy, the hormone relaxin makes ligaments looser and more flexible, putting you at risk for taking stretches and movements too far, and risking injury
Also Read: Safe Exercise in Pregnancy