Prenatal Pilates: Why Expectant Mom’s Should Consider It

Posted on Mar 29, 2016


Photo credit: bodydesignpilatesstudyosu / CC BY

Staying healthy is among the most important decisions an expectant mother has to make. Being healthy resonates not only in this delicate point in a woman’s life but also as she gears for another chapter of it. Aside from eating the right diet, choosing the right activities is also necessary, and Pilates is considered to be  a good option to consider.

Unless you are strictly advised by your doctor to reduce activity levels or stay on bed rest, there is no reason not to exercise while you are pregnant. You don’t have to train like you’re a soldier, some light to moderate exercises will do.

What is Pilates?

Pilates is a system of mind-body exercise that uses a floor mat or a variety of equipment to be able to perform low-impact flexibility, muscular strength and endurance movements. It was developed from the principles of Joseph Pilates way back in the 1900s.

If anything, Pilates is a safe and sensible exercise that will not only keep you limber, but it will also make you feel good about yourself. It teaches easy and graceful movements, body awareness and good posture. It also improves your agility, flexibility and economy of motion.

The challenges of pregnancy

Aside from the common nightmares of pregnancy, like the gassiness, constipation and the occasional heartburn, an expectant mom may also find it difficult to move around. The burgeoning baby bump can be the biggest reason for being off your balance, but did you know that your joints can also be out of whack at this stage?

Around the third trimester, a lot of women find it difficult to balance. In fact they might notice that they are often tripping over. The growing belly can easily take the woman off their center of gravity, but there is actually more to it than just the bulge. As the hormone, relaxin, kicks in towards the last trimester of pregnancy it loosens the pelvic joints so that a the woman is more flexible during delivery. However, this hormone also affects other joints, such as the hips, knees, and ankles. This is the reason an expectant mom can feel wobbly, achy and more prone to falls.

The good thing about this is you can work around it! With the right exercise, you keep those joints “well-oiled” where it is able to support you better. If you are not the type who goes for heart-thumping exercises like boxing or circuit training, or even if you are and you just want to dial down the activity while you have your little bun in the oven, then Pilates makes a good exercise.

Why Pilates?

Pilates does not only help you break a sweat, but it also has certain benefits for your pregnancy and delivery. It comes with the right moves and intensity to keep you limber, and it is generally safe for an expectant mom.

The series of movements and positions in Pilates helps you to improve your flexibility, strength and coordination. At the same time, it also develops you to practice proper breathing and relaxation because these are integral parts of the exercise. Pilates focuses on your pelvic floor and core muscles which help support your spine. So that helps you get through pregnancy walking better and feeling better! Why? Because helps you maintain better balance, and it also addresses back pain- another common problem as the pregnancy progresses.

Balancing Act

Pregnancy is an astounding feat for the body because as the baby grows, it’s your body that adapts to make room for it. This is why it is possible for a woman to carry as much as eight babies, and still walk albeit wobbly and maybe uncomfortable. The growing belly messes with your center of gravity, hence, posture and alignment can be easily compromised. Pilates does not promise to stop this from happening, but it can help strengthen the muscles that work to stabilize you particularly those around the hips and pelvis. When you develop these muscles it promotes less discomfort, especially on the lower back, and it also helps your balance.

Pilates and the Pelvic Floor

Pilates is also particularly beneficial for delivery because, as mentioned earlier, it strengthens the pelvic floor muscles. Women are taught the Kegel’s exercise, but most are not really sure about its importance for the pelvic floor during pregnancy. Kegel’s and Pilates have the same benefit in this particular area which functions as a support for the organs found in the lower abdominal cavity. The uterus relies on the pelvic floor for support as it continues to grow throughout the pregnancy. A strong pelvic floor allows a woman to feel the contraction and release during labor and delivery which ensures its strength and flexibility. In doing so, a woman also has better chances for her body reverting back to its pre-pregnant state faster.

Better Control Over Breathing

It’s easy to fall short of breath as the baby grows because the diaphragm gets compressed up into the chest. Pilates promotes breathing exercises which work on the intercostal muscles that line the rib cage. By practicing this a pregnant woman is able to take deep and steady breaths, which also helps during labor.

How safe is Pilates?

It is often a big misconception for women should not work their abdomen during pregnancy. It’s not that you are working your body to get ripped and toned, but rather, this exposes your body to controlled low-impact exercises.

Pilates is generally safe for pregnant women as it does not push and pull you too hard. There are just some precautions of course. Let your instructor know that you are pregnant so that your exercises can be modified and avoid risky moves. Exercising on your back should be avoided once you are in the second trimester because the weight of the uterus can compress on vein that carries blood from your lower body back to your heart. This position can also interfere with the baby’s blood circulation.

Under the hands of a good instructor, Pilates is an enjoyable and effective form of exercise. It can be catered to the demands and precautions associated with pregnancy. It is, however, important to underline the importance of your doctor’s advice. Before you submit to any exercise program, make sure that you check it up with your OB-GYNE if this is indeed safe for you. It may be low-impact, but it may not be advisable for everyone.

Pilates in Singapore is not well-governed, therefore, it is important that anyone who is considering this exercise should check the credentials carefully. It also pays to look for references from others who have done it.

For a reliable program with trained and certified people to help you especially in your special case, try PilatesPlus today. Trial sessions are available for newcomers if you still want to test the waters. Call us today for bookings.