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Benefits of Pilates For Pregnancy

Thinking About Having a Baby? This Is the 1 Workout You Should Be Doing

Whether you're thinking about making a baby, in the process of actively trying, or already pregnant (congratulations!) you've probably got a long list of questions about things you can, and more importantly, cannot do — particularly when it comes to working out.

If you're not already familiar with Pilates, let's quickly recap some of the benefits; It's low impact, improves flexibility, increases overall muscles strength (hello abs we never knew we had) and can be easily modified to suit the individual, all benefits which make Pilates a particularly great form of exercise to get involved in both before, during and after pregnancy.

Below, we spoke to mum and founder of Bodylove Pilates studio in Sydney, Ali Handley, to learn more about the benefits of practising Pilates throughout the different stages of pregnancy.

How Can Pilates Help Prepare the Body For Pregnancy and What Benefits Can It Provide During and Post?

Pilates is a wonderful form of exercise to do at any stage of your pregnancy journey. When you are trying to conceive you want your body to be best supported for optimum health. While our workouts can be super challenging they are not overloading the body creating internal stress reactions. These internal stressors can mess around with the production and balance of hormones which isn't great when you're trying for a baby.

Our goal is instead to create balance and harmony throughout the entire body, not just the alignment of our skeleton but across the other systems too — digestive, lymphatic, nervous. There are no workouts that are contraindicated for conception, so while you're trying you can continue to workout which I think is important, so if it does take longer than expected you're not stopping doing what you love.

Throughout your pregnancy, your body goes through extensive changes and Pilates is a wonderful way to address these changes to ensure you remain pain-free, prepared and strong throughout the three trimesters. Dedicating special time in each prenatal workout to train the muscles of deep core play a crucial role in supporting the pelvis and spine as the baby continues to grow. Moves can be modified as you approach childbirth to allow you to workout up to the day of your labour in some cases. I have a super long laundry list of all the great benefits of Pilates during pregnancy so there are just my favourites.

  • Highly adaptable to abilities. A Pilates program can be made as challenging or as gentle as individual pregnancy demands.
  • Improves core strength. This helps support your growing belly and decrease back pain. It also makes delivery easier. Women who practice safe abdominal strengthening during pregnancy have less low back pain, less pelvic pain, better mobility, easier deliveries and faster recoveries.
  • Low impact. Pilates will not put strain on joints or the back.
  • Improves general sense of wellbeing and empowerment.
  • Improves balance and stability. The centre of gravity shifts forward during pregnancy making balance and stability work important for safety.
  • Breath control. This helps with the decreased respiratory capacity during pregnancy and with breathing during labour.
  • Stress management.

Can Women Stay Committed to Practicing Pilates Throughout Their Pregnancy?

Absolutely! Women can practice Pilates throughout their entire pregnancy. It is so important you can continue to prepare and strengthen the body for the next phase and the physical challenges that lie ahead. From 13 weeks on we don't do any exercises on the tummy. We avoid flexion of the spine and instead focus training the deep core muscles of the body in neutral and we limit the time spent on our backs to under five minutes or not at all depending on how the client feels.

I have practised to the end of all three of my pregnancies and for me, that was a great way to feel good, stay pain-free, strong and connected to my body and my baby.

Is Pilates Safe In Early Pregnancy?

I'm not a doctor so you should always seek medical advice if you have any concerns or past issues but I believe generally it is very safe, if not suggested. Pilates is a low impact form of exercise that focuses on creating global strength, tone and alignment in the body with a focus on deep core training and the breath which helps nourish all the cells of our body.

Can Pilates Help With Pregnancy Concerns Such As Pelvic Floor Health, Back Pain and Abdominal Separation?

The prenatal core muscles stretch by more than 50 percent and the weight of the growing baby and displacement of our organs places strain on our pelvic floor muscles and can compress the lower back causing pain. Deep core training forms the foundation of all our workouts and a strong, well trained deep core (namely our Transverse Abdominus and the Pelvic Floor Muscles) will provide 360-degree support for the midsection, pelvis and spine. Abdominal separation or degree of separation by the end of their pregnancy but a well trained, strong deep core will prevent the worsening of this condition and ensures a speedier postpartum recovery.

Can Pilates During and Before Pregnancy Help Speed Up Recovery Post Birth?

The goal of our pre-natal program is to provide challenging, fun, safe and effective workouts that make you feel good in the present and prepare you for the future. Having a strong identity with your deep core muscles when you go into labour will ensure a speedy post-partum recovery and the reactivation and repair of the muscles.

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