What is Prenatal Pilates?
Prenatal Pilates is a specific type of Pilates whereby the exercises performed are safe for you and your pregnant body. You will also be exercising amongst other pregnant women just like yourself. Meaning you will be surrounded by others on a similar level and journey to you.
Your exercises will be delivered to you by a qualified Pilates Instructor at an appropriate pace and intensity level. If required, exercises can be modified. Instructors can provide on-the-spot modifications to ensure you get the most out of your sessions.
The exercises prescribed are designed to strengthen, stabilise, lengthen, and tone key muscle groups to assist your body to adapt to the growth-related changes associated with pregnancy.
Prenatal Pilates isn’t your average strength session though - rather than overloading and heavily straining the abdominal muscles, emphasis is more on building connection and improving muscular stability.
As well as this, Pilates can work wonders for your posture. During pregnancy, your centre of gravity tends to shift forwards, causing muscular imbalances. Training muscles responsible for postural endurance will aid to counterbalance weight shifts.
Finally, Prenatal Pilates will help you to get your body moving in a safe and supervised environment. During Pregnancy, muscles and joints may tighten up and become painful. Pilates exercises will help to mobilise these stubborn muscular tension zones so you can move freely throughout your day!!
Benefits of Prenatal Pilates
- Build Core and Pelvic Ring strength.
Strengthening the Core and Pelvic Ring Muscles will put you in an ideal position to prevent against common pregnancy associated conditions such as Pelvic Girdle Pain, SI Joint Pain and/or Low Back Pain.
- Build Pelvic Floor Strength
As weight increases, so too does the load onto the Pelvic Floor. Improving pelvic floor strength will assist in preventing against Pelvic Floor Dysfunction such as Incontinence and/or Prolapse.
- Create Calm
Synchronising breathwork with movement may help to ease stress and anxiety levels.
- Become Educated
Learn movement patterns and exercises that are safe for your body during pregnancy.
- Condition your body for Labour.
Build Strength, Cardiorespiratory Fitness, and resilience during your pregnancy to improve your experiences during Labour and during the Post-Partum rehabilitative phase.
- Maintain a Healthy Pregnancy Weight
Regular exercise will assist in weight maintenance and protect against Pregnancy related conditions (Gestational Diabetes and/or Preeclampsia).
- Improve Mobility
Improved Flexibility will prevent muscles from becoming tight and painful.
- Social Support
Get in touch with and meet other mothers like yourself.
Diastasis Rectus Abdominis?
What do all these terms mean? …put simply, it’s a ‘thinning’ or ‘spreading’ of the Muscular Fascia (Linea Alba) that connects the two sets of Rectus Abdominis Muscles – more commonly known as your superficial six-pack muscles.
Left side: Linea Alba normal size Right side: Linea Alba stretched
It’s important to note the female body is designed to grow and expand to make way for your growing baby. It is essential that certain physical changes occur to accommodate this process.
Why this happens?
During pregnancy, your body releases a hormone called Relaxin in excess amounts. The role of Relaxin is to loosen your ligaments and soften muscular tissues around the pelvis to ease delivery during labour.
Ligament laxity does not discriminate and typically results in the softening and stretching of the Muscle Fascia (Linea Alba) as well – this is to permit growth of the abdominal region.
After pregnancy, abdominal unity begins to take place at 4-6 weeks - typically but NOT always. Performing the correct movements, movement patterns, and exercises for your body, will assist and accelerate this restoration period. All Post-Partum journeys are different, and some females will not heal as rapidly or easily as they’d like to. Don’t automatically assume that will be you.
What can you do?
Strengthen those Muscles.
Regularly perform Core, Pelvic Floor and Gluteal Exercises prior to, during and after your pregnancy. Avoid exercises that place additional strain on your abdominals. Heavy Planking, Full Range Abdominal Curling, Crunches and V-Sitting exercises are considered unsafe during your pregnancy and in the early Post-Partum stages. When performed regularly, they may result in further Abdominal separation.
Standing tall, tucking your tailbone underneath your pelvic region, and distributing 80% of body weight onto your heels rather than your toes, will assist in activating the core and glutes. This will off load your quadriceps and lower back muscles.
Awareness of movement patterns.
When moving from a lying to sitting position, generate the movement through your upper and lower body. Avoid bringing yourself into an upright position by curling upwards through your abdominals only. Additionally, avoid movements that require you to be weightbearing on one leg for an extended period. Distribute your weight evenly when moving from sitting to standing and avoid one-legged dressing and/or changing. Overtime, these movements combined will put excess and unwanted strain on the abdominals.
Avoid Heavy Lifting beyond your capacity.
When lifting heavy objects, position the load close to your body and within the midline – avoid favouring a particular side.
Avoid Strenuous Exercise.
Exercise that causes your Abdominals to bulge outward and your lower back to feel strained should be avoided at all costs. Wait until your body has undergone appropriate healing prior to returning to vigorous exercise.
When can I start and up to how far in pregnancy willI be able to do Pilates?
Pilates is an incredible form of exercise that you can continue to do throughout your pregnancy journey and post-partum. Pilates is great to start during pregnancy whether you’re transitioning as an avid-exerciser, or even if you haven’t had much experience with exercise before. The low-impact, core, glute and pelvic floor focus in Pilates has great benefits for your body.
During the first trimester, mothers-to-be may feel more tired or experience morning sickness. If you feel good, Pilates is absolutely a safe exercise to perform and start.
If you have stayed strong and mobile all throughout the first and second trimesters, you will be reaping the benefits in the third trimester. By continuing with Pilates, you may be able to get all the way to your delivery date without any aches and pains, and optimise your postpartum recovery.
It is absolutely still possible to exercise up tothe date of delivery - just listen to your body, andtake it slower. The great thing is that we can alwaysprovide modifications in Pilates, and adaptto how you’re feeling on the day.
How will Pilates help me pre- during and post pregnancy?
Exercise and movement is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle. It helps prevent disease, aches,pains and injuries, is important for cardiovascular health, strong bones, helps reduce stress,promote energy levels, and leads to a better overallquality of life. All of which are very important when there is a newborn to look after.
Pregnancy has a huge impact on a woman’s body, both internally and externally. There are so many changes that occur during pregnancy - all systems are affected, including blood biochemistry, cardiovascular, respiratory, hormonal and musculoskeletal. This can lead to shortness of breath, tiredness, swelling, clotting disorders, postural changes and issues such a slower back pain, pelvic joint pain, carpal tunnel symptoms, rectus diastasis and urinary incontinence. Pilates can help to manage these.
Not only is Pilates safe during pregnancy for most women, it is an incredible, whole-body approach to conditioning. Pilates is one of the only exercise methods out there that will give youthe muscle strengthening, stretching and breath work you need.
Exercise pre-pregnancy has been shown to reduce the risk of Gestational Diabetes. In fact, the highest risk-factor for delivering a macrosomic (high birth weight) infant is a high pre-pregnancy BMI.
Pilates strengthens the body and the mind.
As the body changes throughout pregnancy, there are certain things that become a little challenging, such as balance, endurance and coordination. In your Pilates practice, you’re working these elements in addition to whole-body strengthening and conditioning. Pilates is all about creating a balanced body, something that’s especially important when navigating a growing bump.
Pilates embodies the holistic approach to wellness,and prenatal clients need to be strong both physically and emotionally. The Pilates breathing- a focus on connecting the movement to thebreath is so powerful here. We know that there’s a connection between breath and our emotional state. The focus on breath in Pilates translates to daily life, to better coping with the emotional ups and downs, and the anxiety prenatal clients might experience. The connection between the physical work of Pilates and breathing helps later on, too, with labor and delivery.
You can do Pilates throughout your whole pregnancy.
Pilates can support the prenatal client all the way through pregnancy—and not a lot of other exercise modalities can do that. If you’re experiencing fatigue in your first trimester, you can reduce your pace and intensity and still get the benefitsof core strength and balance. Or maybe now that you’re in your second trimester, you feel great, then the routine can be made more challenging while still keeping a focus on safety.
In Pilates, you can provide modifications for everyone.
The spring tensions used with the Reformer can support your body against gravity, and provides resistance for a muscular strength focus. The elevated surface of the Reformer, and addition ofthe pregnancy wedge is also super helpful for pregnant clients who may find it difficult to liedown on the floor on a Mat.