My Top 3 Pilates Exercises for Pregnancy.

I’m a huge fan of Pilates during pregnancy, it really kept me strong, active and held my pelvis together throughout 2 pregnancies. In fact in my second pregnancy when I was teaching 11 Pilates classes a week and doing Pilates daily I had no lower back pain or pelvic pain. It  really does work!

So here are my top 3 Pilates exercises to do in pregnancy. These were filmed when I was 34 weeks pregnancy myself and are safe to do throughout all 3 trimesters of pregnancy and after birth too.

 

 

You can buy my “Bump to Birth” Pilates in Pregnancy DVD here.

Breastfeeding and Exercise

I’m posting this after a couple of posts and questions on the topic… I myself remember being a bit worried about breastfeeding and exercise but my experience was that as long as I fed before and after exercise I had no problems (the hubby on the other hand sometimes had a fractious baby!). I’ve based some of this on my initial questions and those I’ve been asked.

Feed before exercise

I’d always suggest that you feed your baby before your exercise.  If your breasts are full, chances are they will feel uncomfortable, and any amount of activity may stimulate milk flow, so it’s advisable to wear breast pads. If it’s a class like the ones I teach you can probably arrange to get there early and feed the baby before class. If not feed at home or even in the car! Remember you could also express if feeding is not an option.

Bump to Birth Pilates

Is a sports bra necessary?

Getting a properly fitted sports bra is essential if you’re embarking on any type of fitness class or activity to reduce the amount of “bounce” and provide adequate shock absorption to the breasts. Although wearing a nursing bra is very convenient for feeding before or after class it will not provide enough support. Consider wearing two bras, with a nursing bra on first, then a sports bra over the top. I know it sounds like a bit of a nuisance, but this “double-bra” effect will you with the support you need. I remember doing this and then whipping my top and sports bra off to feed in between classes on occasion – rather crazy but necessary 😉 I’m going to be looking out for a breastfeeding sports bra with baby 2 on the way, these are now more readily available thankfully.

Body positioning

I’m always quite aware of this in my  post-natal classes. Lying directly on your front can feel uncomfortable when breastfeeding.  For others, it feels fine.  When performing any exercise in this position, if it feels uncomfy, either mention it to your instructor who should be able to offer you an alternative exercise or you could try placing a rolled up towel above and/or below your breasts to reduce the amount of discomfort/pressure. Personally I only put ladies on their tummies for a short period of time then we change position.

Range of movement

Again, for comfort, it’s advisable to keep the range of movement of some arm exercises smaller and controlled. Anything vigorous that involves you reaching your arms over your head repetitively will cause tenderness, so it’s important you keep the range of movement of your arms smaller.  You know your body best, at the end of the day, so choose what feels comfortable for you.

Milk production

There is no significant research to suggest that moderate-intensity exercise inhibits milk production. Examples of moderate-intensity exercise include: weight training, low-impact aerobics, walking, swimming.  A study by Carey & Quinn (2001) suggested that lactate levels of milk production changed only after a mother performed maximal intensity exercise, and this may affect baby’s acceptance of post-exercise breast milk. But, the authors agreed that it’s highly unlikely that a postnatal women would feel comfortable pushing themselves to this level, so its findings have been discounted. Moderate-intensity exercise however, with good hydration will not affect the quantity or the quality of breast milk. Note the key here is good hydration. A great tip is to have a glass of water every time you breastfeed.

I hope this helps, any questions let me know and I’d love to hear your feedback too.

Bump to Birth DVD Review from EDM fitness.

Here is a lovely review of our Bump to Birth Antenatal Pilates DVD that I recieved from Victoria at EDM Fitness:

“‘From Bump to Birth’ was very easy to follow (even if you are a complete beginner at Pilates) and could be done at home when you have a quiet moment. You do not necessarily need any special equipment, but if you would like a mat, and a swiss ball, but you can still do these exercises on a chair!

The exercises are clearly explained, and you can work to your own ability and trimester as adaptations for easier/harder exercises are offered. The beauty of this DVD is that all exercises are suitable for the complete duration of your pregnancy, so you don’t have to worry whatsoever about if what you’re doing is ‘okay!’

I would thoroughly recommend this workout, it targets the main niggles that women get during pregnancy.. (e.g. lower back pain, stress incontinence, stress) as well as prepare you for birth and after delivery. The whole workout is just generally is very relaxing and gets you to take some time out in your busy day.

Highly recommended, quick, easy and cost effective way of regularly doing some core strengthening exercises during your pregnancy. ”

The full review is here.

Or go like them on Facebook.

Antenatal DVD Release: From Bump to Birth.

From Bump to Birth: Pilates can Help – Southampton Based Pilates Instructor Releases Antenatal Pilates DVD

We’ve only gone and done it, this week sees the release of our Antenatal Pilates DVD and it is looking pretty fabulous! The DVD was filmed when Priya was 18 weeks pregnant and the wonderful Alun Leppitt has done a fantastic job with directing and producing it.

F”rom Bump to Birth” is designed to help keep pregnant ladies strong, fit, mobile and toned throughout pregnancy. Suitable for all stages of pregnancy and also after giving birth this DVD includes seated, stood, side lying and hands and knees sections so you can dip into whichever part you fancy.

Priya now teaches 3 antenatal classes a week and sees a large number of pregnant ladies each week so really does know the exercises that help and are most useful.

Sat on Ball DSC_0884

Priya says “Pilates can strengthen your core, so supporting your lower back, aiding with pregnancy back aches as well as help stabilise the pelvis as the exercises I use also focus on the muscles in the thighs and bum, so we support below the pelvis.”

“Personally Pilates is essential for me in pregnancy, it prevent too much pelvic pain and back ache and ensures I stay fit and mobile”

 

The DVD is available from her website: www.pilateswithpriya.co.uk/site/DVD or directly from the studio (priya@pilateswithpriya.co.uk), costing £15 if collected directly from the studio. Please do spread the word!

 

 

Antenatal Pilates Clothing Review.

I recently found Mums 2 be Fitwear on Twitter, perfect timing seeing as I’m now 20 weeks pregnant. Having chatted to them they seemed like a lovely company so I agreed to review their clothing. With the amount of classes I teach it’s important to have clothes that support me, show my body shape and make me feel good too.

Very quickly Mums to Be Fitwear sent me a top and some below the knee leggings in black. These clothes are lovely in terms of their look, feel and quality. I couldn’t want to try them out.

As a fitness instructor I currently teach Step Aerobics and Pilates (3 being antenatal) classes plus I attend ballet. So from cardio work to strength, core, dancing and flexibility, I’ve tested these clothes out.

Mums 2 B Fitwear

My verdict?

I absolutely love the leggings. They stretch very comfortably over my bump and I can tell these will be a staple in my wardrobe throughout my pregnancy. They feel soft to the touch and fit my calves nicely. They could also be comfortably worn just around the house or for a sport look out and about.

The top I really like the look of and the feel but I found it is slightly too high cut under the arms. I found this slightly uncomfortable for Step Aerobics but fine for Pilates. The rest of the top is very flattering and fits very well. I wonder if I just need a slightly larger size as although I am usually a size 8 my boobs have certainly grown a lot more than they did in my first pregnancy!

Overall I would highly recommend these clothes, especially the over the bump style trousers.

From Bump to Birth, It’s a Wrap. Antenatal DVD.

Wow what a day. I’ve been filming the new Pilates with Priya DVD, as I’m currently pregnant it made sense to make an antenatal DVD. Personally I found Pilates kept me well in pregnancy. I have a tendency to suffer from lower back pain when pregnant and Pilates is such a help for that. I was only teaching 1 class a week during my last pregnancy so was doing my own pregnancy pilates each night.

We now have 3 Antenatal classes running a week and it’s a joy to see so many pregnant ladies stay fit and strong throughout their journey. I’m currently 18 weeks pregnant with number 2 and am teaching 11 Pilates classes a week at present, it’s certainly keeping me toned and those aches and pains are staying away.

So as so many in my classes have said how helping Antenatal Pilates has been to them….. we took the hint and the new DVD will be coming out soon! Today we had 3 cameras, 2 sets of lights, 2 camera men and me, all in my little studio. It seemed to go well, but I haven’t seen any of it yet – looking forward to that bit 😉 The DVD includes a standing warm-up, some exercises seated either on  gym ball or a chair, exercises in hands and knees and lying on the side. It’s designed to strengthen the core and the pelvis, support the lower back and help prepare ladies for labour whilst keeping them well in pregnancy.

So if you are pregnant or know any one who is – then watch out for our DVD, coming very soon.

Pelvic Girdle Pain and Pilates.

Working with pregnant ladies I often end up advising and chatting about pelvic pain. I also have a few other non-pregnant ladies with this type of pain, who had this type of pain in pregnancy and it’s continued after birth.

Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) has been renamed Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction. Big terms for pain in the joint that make up the pelvis, the syphysis pubis joint and the front and the sacroiliac joint at the back. Pain can be felt in the lower back, groin, thighs, hips and pelvic floor. This can lead to pain walking, climbing the stairs, getting in/out of the car and bath, straddling, turning in bed and standing on one leg.

Pilates with Priya: The Pelvis

There are many reasons suggested as to why this pain can occur, in some cases the pelvic joints can be damaged or weak, there could be a biomechanical problem or it could be due to hormones. Between 14-22% of pregnant ladies get PGP and in many it is a random thing that cannot be predicted!

Pilates can really help prevent and minimise PGP. In my ante-natal classes we focus on strengthening the muscles above and below the pelvis, so helping the pelvis remain strong. We strengthen the core muscles and also muscles in the thighs, legs and bottom. For example a pelvic tilt or small roll up can strengthen the core and modified squats and oysters can strengthen the gluts and thighs muscles.

If you get pelvic pain then here are my top tips:
See a physiotherapist. In Southampton you can self-refer to the obstetric physio, which is an amazing thing. the midwifes will pass on the number to you. A physio will assess your pain, range of function and possibly realign your pelvis.
Once you have seen the physio, then Pilates exercises can help strengthen you to minimise any further pain. Try a one to one session for some specially tailored exercises to do at home or attend a class.
Remain active within the limits of your pain, keeping active is important and will help, but obviously you don’t want to be in constant pain, so you will need to judge how much you can do.
Avoid activities that make it worse, standing on one leg often does this or having the legs too wide apart. Try keeping some activites seated.
Using a pillow between your legs when sleeping can provide relief for some ladies.
Ask for help when you need it!

Priya will be releasing her own worksheets to help with this area and her own Pilates in Pregnancy DVD very soon, contact us to pre-order.

To book a one to one session click here.

How to get a six pack and recover from diastasis recti.

Sit-ups, or any variation of this movement where you go into forward flexion eg when lying on your back, you bring your torso towards your knees to work the six pack muscle (called the Rectus Abdominus or RA), is considered a NO-NO for postnatal women, ladies post hysterectomy after some types of abdominal surgery, in those with abdominal doming or in diastasis recti (seperated tummy muscles).  This isn’t limited to women, lifting heavy weights can cause it to happen in men too. Performing this exercise can cause more harm than good.  So, if you’ve any of the above conditions and you’re doing sit ups, STOP them immediately.

How do you strengthen your abdominals? Pilates!!!

The first thing we need to do regarding this area is actually focus on strengthening your pelvic floor which is a bit like a sling of muscles supporting you from underneath, then locate the deep abdominal muscles which lie under your six-pack/R.A muscle.  These deep muscles are known as the Transversus Abdominis (TA). If you work on strengthening the deepest muscles first, then focus on the next layer, then the next layer after that, then your abdominals will re-align to their original structure.

Sit-ups strengthen and work the R.A.  During pregnancy with diastasis recti and after some surgeries, we know that this muscle has lengthened and separated.  If you don’t have a solid foundation underneath this six-pack muscle before you work  then sit-ups will actually make your separation worse, because you’re forcing the muscle to strengthen, when it’s still in a weakened, separated state.  The amount of abdominal pressure placed on the six-pack muscle when performing a sit-up, forces it to separate further apart.

The best type of exercise to do for your abdominals, postnatally is Pilates-based.  Pilates focuses on your pelvic floor and TA. As an instructor I’d focus on strengtheing your core first and then later on work on those sit ups to shorten the RA muscles.

So, I hear you ask: “Why do people do sit-ups?”.  Well, in most cases, people do sit-ups in the hope that they will get themselves a toned, flat stomach and a noticeable six-pack.  However I’d debate this, often sit-ups are not performed safely and unless you are super leaned  with a strong core, they aren’t going to work.

So, to get a six-pack, there are three things you need to do: a) clean up your diet, b) make fat-burning exercise part of your routine (the best way to burn fat, is to build lean muscle eg weight/resistance training), and c) work your pelvic floor and TA by doing Pilates.

NCT Nearly New Sale and Us

Today we had a trade stand at the Southampton Nearly New Sale…. probably doesn’t sound that exciting, but it was the first time we had done something like this.

I’ll be honest….James did all the hard work, he got all the literature, DVD’s and forms together. I just turned up with a toddler and a smile on my face, did my thing of chatting, demonstrating moves and chasing a small girl around.

We’re such a small business, we don’t yet have lots of fancy giant posters, stands or amazing things to give away, but we do love to talk to people and help them. This morning it was lots of chatter about pelvic girdle pain, weaning and tummies!

As a result it looks like our antenatal classes will be full and overflowing, great news as a lot of our current mummies to be are about to give birth. I also sold a few DVD’s and hopefully we may have got some interested in our Weaning EBook – Baby Breakfasts.

A lovely morning, talking to lovely people. Thankyou to all who said Hello. The added bonus – meeting some of our Pilates babies and seeing their mummies!!

 

New Ante-Natal Class Starts

May saw the launch of a New Ante-Natal Pilates class for our little studio. Taught by Priya this is now our second Ante-Natal Class and is already full of lovelies mums to be. It’s lovely to be getting such an influx of pregnant ladies that a second class has had been put on to cater for demand. We only take a maximum of 7 people so there is plenty of time for individual help. In fact that’s one thing Priya loves to do, go round the class and advise.

All the ladies tonight turned up with their own birthing balls, ready for action. These classes are designed to help strengthen your core, stretch out your upper back, correct postural imbalances and prepare you for not only labour but life afterwards too.

So now we have 2 Ante-Natal classes plus we have a fabulous Post Natal Class for after baby comes so you can come along with baby, do some Pilates and have a cuppa and chat afterwards 😉