You may be wondering: I’ve given up wine, soft cheese, sushi, and coffee. Do I have to give up doing Pilates too? The answer is no! Pilates can actually be a wonderful addition to the fitness routines of pregnant women.
Depending on what trimester you’re in, we’ll modify the exercise to suit your needs. We’re also proud to say that, at Inner Balance Pilates (IBP), we’ve supported fifteen mothers in continuing to practice Pilates right up until the last few weeks of their pregnancies.
Nevertheless, everyone woman is different. So, before we encourage you to keep hitting the studio, it’s important to talk to your OB/GYN. However, in most cases, if you’ve been physically active prior to becoming pregnant, you should be able to continue your routine.
Protect Your Posture
Being pregnant is a beautiful thing, but it can do a number on your posture. In fact, the American Pregnancy Association found that 50 to 70 percent of pregnant women experience back pain. It should also be noted that, if you’re overweight or had back pain prior to pregnancy, you are at an even higher risk for prenatal back pain.
However, by strengthening your core, adjusting your alignment, and mindfully stretching tense muscles, you can alleviate some of this discomfort. Two of the best exercises that you can do during your first trimester—at home or in-studio—is the pelvic tilt/imprint and pelvic curl/hip roll, especially if you’re experiencing lower back pain. The pelvic tilt/implant will get your body warmed up for more challenging spine articulations and provide a smooth transition into the pelvic curl/hip roll.
- Start by laying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the mat.
- Spread your feet about a hip-distance apart.
- Allow the natural curve of your spine to be present (neutral spine).
- On an exhale, “curl” your tailbone up toward your belly button.
- This will flatten your lower back right into the mat.
- Your pubic bone will be slightly higher than your hip bones.
- On an inhale, release the tailbone back to the floor.
- Allow the natural curve of your spine to be present.
Once you’re warmed up, we can transition to the pelvic curl.
Pelvic Curl/Hip Roll:
- From step 2 of the pelvic tilt, we’ll press through our feet, curling our tailbone upward.
- Your hips, lower spine, and then middle back should rise in successive order.
- Pause for a few seconds when your hips and shoulder form a straight line.
- Do not try to arch your back past this point.
- On an exhale, roll your spine back down to the floor.
- On an inhale, release to a neutral spine position.
A Natural Energy Boost
So, you gave up coffee and now you’re crashing hard. Well, Pilates may just give you the pick-me-up you need. According to a 2016 study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology, acute resistance exercise for pregnant women usually increased perceived physical and mental energy (92% to 96% of workouts, respectively) and usually decreased perceived physical and mental fatigue (79% to 88% of workouts, respectively).
To start boost your energy levels, ask your Pilates instructor about using a resistance band. The single leg stretch is a great place to start.
Single Leg Stretch:
- Lay with your back in the spine supporter or against a wall with your legs outstretched.
- Bring your left leg up to your chest.
- Place the resistance band securely around the arch of your foot.
- On an inhale, anchor your pelvic and stabilize your rib cage.
- On an exhale, holding each end of the band (one end in each hand), lengthen your leg upwards and outwards.
- Finally, bring your leg back down to your chest.
Resistance Band Row:
- Sit with your back straight (neutral pelvis) on the floor or on a stability ball and wrap the resistance band around the bottom of your feet.
- Fully extend your legs.
- On an exhale, bring your elbow back and your hands toward your chest while rolling back off your hip bones.
- On an inhale, return to neutral pelvic.
A Quicker & Safer Bounce Back
Strengthening your muscles, staying heart healthy, and practicing controlled breathing can greatly help you during your delivery. In the case of a long labor, the endurance that’s developed with consistent exercise will reduce fatigue during delivery. Moreover, controlled breathing is also known to be an effective pain management technique.
But can Pilates help after the baby is born? According to a 2015 study by the British Journal of Sports Medicine, “Exercise significantly reduced gestational weight gain.” This is incredibly important, as it’s significantly easier to put weight on than it is too lose it.
Staying fit during pregnancy also reduces the chances of fetal macrosomia. This occurs when the baby grows significantly larger than the average percentile for their gestational age. Macrosomia can cause serious problems during delivery.
Not only does macrosomia put the baby at risk for bone fractures and suffocation, but mothers are also at risk for serious injury to the vagina, excessive bleeding after delivery, and a painful uterine rupture/tear. The chances of these complications occurring are much higher for a mother with obesity.
Be A Pilates Mom
At IBP, we can modify just about every exercise to make it conducive to expecting mothers. Whether you’re in your first or third trimester, give us a call at 814-969-2374 or click here to contact us today. We look forward to seeing you and your baby bump!