By Kelly McBride
I often get asked the question, “Is Pilates safe to practice during my pregnancy?” The answer is an astounding, “YES”! In fact, practicing Pilates during pregnancy is the exact reason why I started my journey as a Pilates instructor. Following college and before I had children, I was a graphic artist. A client came to me and wanted me to create their collateral including content. As I researched this (at the time unheard of) exercise program, I happened upon the phrase, “Pilates is one of the best forms of exercise to do while pregnant”.
As a newly married woman and looking to start a family, this really caught my eye. A year later, I became pregnant and was excited to put this theory in play. However, my OBGYN told me, “Dont start a new exercise program while pregnant”. Hmmm… For some reason I started to think about this. I looked at the fundamental exercises that Pilates offers and compared them to the “pregnancy exercises” that I found in books such as “Essential Exercises for the Childbearing Year by Elizabeth Noble”.
What I found was that Pilates offers the same core strengthening movements recommended by most pregnancy fitness experts. So I took my list of selected Pilates exercises to my OB. He looked at them and said, “WOW! Pilates sounds like a really great idea!” And this was the beginning of a beautiful relationship between Pilates and myself.
I started my Pilates practice while pregnant and was fortunate enough to have an educated instructor guide me safely and effectively through each trimester. As an instructor myself now, I am often approached by pregnant mommies who are not new to Pilates and are unsure if and how they should proceed. I explain, “From the moment you become pregnant, every system in your body starts to change. It is very important that a pregnant woman seek out an instructor that is specifically trained in Prenatal Pilates.
With over 500 traditional Pilates exercises to choose from, they will be sure to choose the movements that will most benefit your new and constantly changing body. They will be able to address specific concerns, modify or omit exercises that reflect these changes in your body.” Whether you are new to Pilates or already have a routine, you can reap the benefits of this amazing modality. There are so many great benefits about practicing Pilates during your pregnancy but here are a few that Ive found to be most important.
While many forms of exercise take oxygen and blood flow away form your core muscles to your extremities, Pilates does just the opposite. Pilates exercises increase oxygen and blood flow to your core. This is exactly what your baby needs to develop and grow properly. WOW! An exercise program that benefits both mother and baby in utero!
Practicing Pilates will help you to maintain strength of muscles most affected by pregnancy, encourage good posture and promote appropriate flexibility of the pelvic joints for delivery. Abdominals, back and pelvic floor muscles are the very muscles that will help you most during your pregnancy and delivery. By continuing to keep these muscles strong, youre likely to have an easier delivery. Pilates also stresses the importance of breath control, which is advantageous in managing contractions. I dont know a mom out there who doesnt want an easier delivery!
Due to physical and hormonal changes that take place in a pregnant womans body, joints are more vulnerable and can be overstretched. Pilates is kind to your joints because it is non-impact form of exercise. The deep breathing and gentle stretching that accompanies each exercise is ideal way to relieve stress and keep your joints healthy and balanced.
Another benefit of Pilates is that most all of the exercises can be modified to reflect the changes in your body from first trimester to delivery. Not to mention, the pregnancy conditioning movements you learn during pregnancy can be repeated within *12 hours after delivery to encourage a speedy postpartum recovery. (ie: kegels, deep abdominal breathing and pelvic tilts.)
Another amazing benefit is that unlike many other exercise programs, you can use fundamental Pilates exercises to prepare your body for birth and they can be practiced up until and even during labor. The breathing techniques that are present in every Pilates workout are essential for calming and focusing yourself throughout your pregnancy. Practicing these destressing breathing techniques can also be used for pain management during labor.
OK, so yes, Pilates will give you the ability to maintain core strength, keep your abdominals tone and de-stress you but there are some other key benefits that Pilates alone will bring to you during your pregnancy. Pilates gives you an amazing awareness of your body. This awareness of what your body can achieve builds self-confidence. A confidence and trust in your own body that you will need for a successful birthing experience and motherhood itself. A strong confident woman is a stronger more confident and happy mommy! Happy mommy = happy baby!
*An uncomplicated vaginal delivery
Kelly Mcbride She specializes in losing weight after childbirth for new and expecting moms as well as mommy and me classes. She is a Master Pilates Instructor of Prenatal & Postpartum Pilates & Pelvic Floor Pilates Rehabilitation Specialist as well as being a specialist in healthy pregnancy and does natural childbirth classes.