If you are pregnant...
If you are pregnant, it is essential to consult with your physician or healthcare provider prior to starting a fitness program. If you are a regular Pilates practitioner, inform your instructor as soon as you know you are pregnant so they can guide you through the ways pregnancy will challenge your body through each trimester.
Always look for a qualified instructor familiar with the modifications necessary throughout pregnancy. Your Pilates studio should have all the props (wedges, balls, pillows, bolsters, etc.) available that are important to help pregnant women support their body throughout various exercises.
It is important for an expectant mother to have a custom workout plan for each stage of pregnancy. Listen to the recommendations of your physician, midwife, and Pilates instructor to guide you through the challenges of each trimester. In general, the stronger a body is going into pregnancy, the stronger it will be after the baby is born - however, every pregnancy is different, so always listen to your body while you exercise.
After baby arrives...
Even if you keep up your regular fitness regimen throughout pregnancy, you may be surprised at the changes in the postpartum body. Many women return to exercise too soon or exercise too intensely in an effort to shed baby-weight as fast as possible, but its essential to honor your body and give your body the time it needs to heal and recover from 10 months of carrying a baby.
It is important to listen to the advice of your doctor, midwife, or Pilates instructor when returning to a fitness routine or when starting a new practice. As your body recovers, you'll find exercise a valuable asset in helping regain the strength and energy you need to take care of yourself and a new baby. Another bonus of exercise is that it has been shown to reduce the risk of postpartum depression.
Benefits of Pilates
In addition to maintaining overall strength and stamina, Pilates has been shown to offer a wide range of benefits for pregnant women:
Helps develop strength in the pelvic floor that can help with labor and postpartum recovery
Deep breathing techniques help strengthen the abdomen and lower back, maintaining flexibility in thoracic spine
Strengthening of the transverse abdomens can help prevent a diastasis recti
Helps strengthen stabilizing muscles (especially in the low back) to help with discomfort and balance issues as mom's body makes room for baby
Pilates, CoreAlign, TRX and barre workouts can help maintain flexibility, strengthen, improve balance and circulation with minimal impact on the joints. Core strength emphasized in specialized fitness classes can support postural changes during pregnancy.
Prenatal & postpartum fitness*
*The information contained herein is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Clients with serious medical conditions should always consult with their healthcare practitioners before beginning any Pilates or other exercise program. Always inform your instructor of any injuries or health conditions prior to any exercise session.
Postpartum Pilates pointers
Resume your exercise routine once you've received clearance from your doctor or midwife
Check yourself for a diastasis recti, a separation of the abdominal muscles, and make sure you discuss any issues with your health care provider and Pilates instructor
Go at your own speed - start gently and listen to your body. Rest as needed during a workout, and take sufficient breaks between workouts
Focus on your pelvic floor - many Pilates exercises can help strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor, and many instructors have additional training in pelvic floor-focused Pilates programming
Pay attention to posture - posture changes during pregnancy, and taking care of baby can be an additional postural challenge. Incorporate exercises to focus on the core and upper back