I’ve been lucky enough to teach antenatal pilates for 4 years now and in that time I must have worked with over 250 ladies. I’ve also used pilates myself through 3 pregnancies and it has helped keep me strong, shown me which parts of my body needed working on and enables me to keep working and being a hands on mum throughout. The comments we get from some of our ladies are:
“If I miss a class I really notice the difference”
“My hips and pelvis ache less and I can feel the difference Pilates is making”
“Classes help to keep me strong and relaxed during pregnancy”
“I always leave feeling better than when I arrived and with exercises to use in the week”
Antenatal Pilates offers multiple benefits including, developing your natural corset to support your back and baby, helping with the changes to your posture, pelvic floor education, breathing technique, toning the muscles and, thus, helping in weight management. Practising Pilates on a regular basis can improve posture, alleviate backaches, and, ultimately, help with labour and delivery. It can even help the baby rotate in the optimal position. I tend to have a format where I use a mixture of functional exercises that help in daily living, for example moves you will need to bend, lift, rotate, get to the floor, release stretches for the areas I know get tight as pregnancy progresses, core strengthening exercises and some move to help in labour and for baby positioning.
Lets look at some of the changes that happen in pregnancy:
There is around 15-20% increase in oxygen consumption during pregnancy. The breathing rate will stay the same, but an expecting mum will breathe more deeply each time. The changes in the blood vessels caused by the hormonal changes together with the changed position of the ribcage and diaphragm may make a mum-to-be feel breathless at times.
The breathing we use in Pilates helps make an expecting mum’s breathing more efficient. Focusing on breathing in an antenatal class also has a relaxing and calming effect which can then be used in labour.
2. Muscle, ligament, joint and postural adaptations:
Hormonal changes during pregnancy have an effect on muscles, ligaments and joints. There can be more movement, stretching and instability. A safe pregnancy pilates class will help you exercise within a safe range of movement and strengthen the supporting muscles. It can really help with conditions such as SPD/pelvic girdle pain.
3. Core Strength:
Pilates exercises focus on core stability, and pelvic stability. This obviously helps keep the abdominals strengthened but it also can help keep your pelvis in good alignment and reduce pelvic girdle pain.
Pregnancy affects posture as the centre of gravity shifts. Some women adopt a posterior pelvic tilt (tucked under) with a flat lower back, whilst others adopt an anterior tilt (bum stuck out) with an increased curve in the lower back. Either way it is not helpful for the body. Knowing about neutral posture will help you correct this in day to day life and pilates will provide you will a range of exercises to strengthen the right muscles.
So if you are pregnant, antenatal Pilates with a specialist teacher is a MUST. If you can’t get to a class or want something to use in between sessions check out my specialst Bump to Birth DVD.