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Pilates and Pregnancy

pilates-200wPilates

Many moms-to-be find Pilates to be a great exercise to do both during and after their pregnancy. Why? One reason is that Pilates builds core strength. If abdominal, back, and pelvic floor muscles are toned, they will support a more comfortable pregnancy and delivery. And after baby is born? Pilates is a great exercise for helping new moms get their figures back!

Get Good Instruction

First, check with your doctor of midwife before beginning any exercise program. Next, if you have never done Pilates before, find a prenatal Pilates class, or an instructor who can give you a lot of one on one attention. It is not recommended that you begin doing Pilates on your own with a book or DVD. If you already have a Pilates background, it is still ideal to take a prenatal Pilates class or work directly with an instructor. Error on the safety side.

Pilates is Adaptable

Pilates is very adaptable. Most Pilates exercises can be modified as your body and abilities change. A good instructor will offer modifications to help you keep the intent of the exercise, but adjust the form to work for your changing body. As your baby grows your center of gravity will shift. You may find that you need to be a bit more cautious when doing routine things that you are quite used to doing, such as getting up and down on a mat. 

Pay Attention

Prenatal Pilates is not particularly strenuous, but you will want to make sure to pay attention to your body (and baby) and pace yourself. Give yourself the “talk test” to keep from overdoing. If you are too winded to talk in a casual tone and tempo, it is time to slow down. Other signs that you need to take a break are dizziness, feeling faint, nausea, racing heart, shortness of breath, uterine contractions, bleeding or leaking fluid, and headache.

Past the First Trimester

Once you are into your second trimester it will be time to stop doing exercises while lying flat on your back. This is recommended because of the possibility of obstructing blood supply to the baby. It is also recommended that you not put your feet over your head. That’s not to say that you can’t prop them up. What it means is that your hips stay down. Ask questions and listen to your instructor on when to eliminate any sharp percussive movements from your routine such as vigorous sidekicks, and of course, reformer exercises with the jump board will be out. 

Six Pilates Exercise Principles

Pregnancy is a very rewarding time to tune inward and connect with the core of Pilates, the exercise principles. Working with these principles will not only enhance your workout experience, but they also offer skills to bring to the birth and care of you baby:

  • Centering - Physically bringing the focus to the center of the body, the powerhouse area between the lower ribs and pubic bone.
  • Concentration - If one brings full attention to the exercise and does it with full commitment, maximum value will be obtained from each movement.
  • Control - Every Pilates exercise is done with complete muscular control. No body part is left to its own devices.
  • Precision - In Pilates, awareness is sustained throughout each movement. There is an appropriate placement, alignment relative to other body parts, and trajectory for each part of the body.
  • Breath - Joseph Pilates emphasized using a very full breath in his exercises. He advocated thinking of the lungs as a bellows, using them strongly to pump the air fully in and out of the body.
  • Flow - Pilates exercise is done in a flowing manner. Fluidity, grace, and ease are goals applied to all exercises. The energy of an exercise connects all body parts and flows through the body in an even way.