One of the great things you can do for yourself during pregnancy is sleep (we all know stockpiling before bubs comes along is a necessity), jokes jokes … seriously, it’s actually Pilates (ok, plus maybe a little extra sleep!).
It’s no secret that our bodies change a lot during pregnancy and due to both the physical and systemic changes we go through, it’s completely normal for mobility to decrease. This results in increased difficulty getting in and out of bed (nobody wants difficulty in delaying the process of getting into bed for precious sleep), the car, and even simply changing positions; you know what we’re talking about – for some of us, pregnancy can make you feel like an older, lethargic and less mobile version of yourself. Pilates allows the body to exercise during pregnancy in the greatest, safest, range of motion.
As your bump grows and your hormones change, it can send your posture into disarray. Pilates focuses on the muscles that maintain good posture and joint positioning, so that these changes are minimised.
And don’t stress, it’s fairly normal to experience some aches and pains as the baby grows. Stronger muscles help with supporting the joints and, in turn, can help manage some of the ongoing aches that you may experience. Getting the muscles working, can also help pump fluid around the system and give circulation a boost – which is really beneficial during pregnancy. Plus, being a strength-based exercise, Pilates also preserves muscle mass – yes, please!
When we think of pregnancy and fitness, we usually neglect – let’s be honest, don’t even give any thought to – exercising our upper body, but it’s actually very important for when your new bundle of joy has arrived earth-side. Having stronger arms makes it easier to carry and hold bubs (and the capsule, nappy bag, pram and ten thousand other new additions to your daily routine), as well as helping decrease any strain on the neck and shoulders.
In terms of exercise during pregnancy, safety is a key concern, and this is where Pilates really comes into its own. Note, however, that not all Pilates classes are created equal. You should ensure that your instructors are qualified in teaching pregnancy classes and that the exercises themselves are chosen with the knowledge that there are particular movements that pregnant women should not be performing due to increased risk of physical injury. The objective is to undertake movement designed to help, not hinder, you.
Once your little one arrives, you’ll find the importance of exercise even more critical – not just physically, but also to help reduce stress, manage fatigue, enjoy ‘me time’ (yes to clarify, once you’re a mama and responsible for keeping a mini human alive 24/7, exercise technically counts as ‘me time’) and lead to an overall better quality of life.
Pilates can help strengthen the body (and mind) to prepare it for the demands of motherhood. The stronger the muscles are, the less the skeletal system needs to take the brunt of the force of having to carry a baby, push a pram and the general daily demands of motherhood. Too much pressure on the joints can lead to pain and injury, so Pilates can definitely aid in this.
A more mobile, strong and functional body allows for an improved ability to do daily tasks, without pain or constantly feeling tired. Can I get a heck, yes! And the specialised exercises of Pilates can also help get the body back to its pre-baby form faster (yes, we’re all keen for this), allowing you to go back to sport, running around, and doing your usual activities without complications.
One other thing, strengthening the, ahem, pelvic floor is also an important part of recovery post-pregnancy and birth. Pilates has a great focus on working the pelvic floor and strengthening the muscle both in isolation but also during movement. This can help the management of any birth related pelvic-floor based issues, including incontinence.
Studio Pilates at Adelaide City and Henley Beach (and soon to be Norwood for our East-side mamas)* offers dedicated Pregnancy classes, so you can continue to workout both pre and post your pregnancy. Their Pregnancy Pilates classes have been carefully developed by a team of physiotherapists, designed with the safety and wellbeing of mums-to-be and baby in mind, and offer a great option to safely strengthen and tone the entire body. With a focus on the core and pelvic floor muscles, Pregnancy Pilates will help you achieve healthy posture, great balance and strength all while rewarding you with a more comfortable pregnancy and faster recovery time post-pregnancy. Regular classes are generally suitable until 14 weeks into your pregnancy, however, their specialty Pregnancy classes are safe to attend throughout your entire pregnancy.
These three mums are regulars at Studio Pilates Henley Beach and swear by their pregnancy Pilates classes. Find out how Pilates has aided them during the different stages of their pregnancies!
Kyrrin – Started at Studio Pilates during pregnancy and gave birth 7 weeks ago. She has just returned to classes and will bring her bubba Flynn with her.
“Pilates kept me feeling good and positive about my labour. It also helped my recovery which means I can return to doing light exercise sooner. Keeping fit is very important to me. Returning to pilates is helping me keep a strong core, upper body and lower body. All very important when lifting, carrying and caring for a newborn.”
Jaliesa – Was a client prior to getting pregnant and is due in August.
“It’s great to go to the pregnancy classes and focus on my own mental and physical wellbeing and be in a class with other people going through pregnancy.”
Melissa – Started Pilates during her pregnancy and is due at the end of June.
“Pilates has definitely helped stabilise my back and hips. In previous pregnancy’s this was an issue for me. I had carpal tunnel, now my pregnancy-related carpal tunnel has completely disappeared!”
* Editor’s note: Pregnancy Pilates is offered at many of our studio’s around Australia and New Zealand.
For more information visit www.studiopilates.com
About this Article – this article originally appeared in Kiddo Magazine.