Pilates is often recommended for pregnant women, but what exactly are the benefits of Pilates during pregnancy?
Overall strengthening and toning are essential during pregnancy. Pilates can help to tone the whole body as a connected unit while taking into account the specific muscle groups that need a little extra love during pregnancy and postpartum. The benefits of Pilates during pregnancy include a healthy, balanced, core, a strong upper back to help posture, and balanced tone in the legs to support the low back.
Stretching and lengthening your muscles is just as important as strengthening them. The benefits of Pilates during pregnancy strengthening and lengthening muscle groups at the same time. Many Pilates exercises work muscles in an extended position leading to long and toned muscles. However, that does not mean that your pregnant Pilates practice should leave specific stretching exercises out. Pilates for pregnancy focuses on stretching the inner thighs, hips, low back, and pelvic floor, as well as opening the chest. A word of caution, during the last trimester Relaxin levels, are high, which means that injuries from over stretching can occur.
Recover with same exercises
One of the significant benefits of Pilates during pregnancy is that the same exercises are used during pregnancy and recovery. This means that after learning your routine during your pregnancy, you can do these same exercises allowing reconnect with your body and take control of your recovery. Whenever you are ready after pregnancy (and have been cleared by a doctor), you can start your recovery right from your living room (or even your bed).
Helps common pregnancy symptoms like,
Edema – Edema is a swelling of the ankles. Pilates helps calm Edema by moving the muscles in the ankles and legs promoting blood flow.
Low back pain – Pilates will help you stretch your low back and open your hips while strengthening your glutes (booty) for added support.
Shortness of breath – As your pregnancy progresses, the baby begins to take up more and more space making it hard for your lungs to fill with air. One of the benefits of Pilates is the focus on the breath. Pilates during pregnancy should include learning how to breathe deeply to open and stretch the ribs and pelvic floor.
Diastasis Recti – Diastasis Recti is a splitting of the abdominal along the linea alba. It is common during pregnancy and can occur during labor. Pilates will teach you how to engage your deep core without straining it helping Diastasis Recti heal over time. If you are concerned that you have Diastasis Recti, I recommend looking for a Pilates Pre/Post Natal Specialist or Pelvic Floor Specialist in your area.
Tone the pelvic floor
Pilates helps to improve the tone of the pelvic floor through strengthen and stretching of the area. Your Pilates practice during pregnancy and recovery may even include pelvic floor release. This may seem counterintuitive, but when you release the pelvic floor for it helps the alignment of the group of muscles allowing them to engage with proper alignment when you strengthen them. You don’t just want a strong pelvic floor, but a supple, almost flexible one as well. You wouldn’t go for a run without stretching your legs; you shouldn’t expect for your pelvic floor to recover without the combination of strength and release.
Learn how to move comfortably during pregnancy
Pilates focuses on alignment; this translates to the benefit of Pilates during pregnancy because you will learn proper alignment in a variety of positions. Practicing movement in various positions will help you to get out of bed. Proper alignment throughout your pregnancy will help you keep pressure off of the low back, abdominal wall, and pelvic floor.
Where do I go from here…
Get to your mat with this Post Natal Pilates practice. Part 1 of the series is designed for mothers who are returning to the mat right after a doctor’s approval. Part 2 is for mother’s who are beginning to feel strong and centered and want to take it to the next level safely.
Learn more about your core, pelvic floor, and proper alignment in my Pilates Essentials course. This course includes a bonus 2-hour workshop called Pilates 101 – Breath and Core that will help you understand the fundamental movements that will get you back to your mat after pregnancy.