P regnancy is a period of great change, both physical and psychical, and in some cases, you may seem to lose balance. The hormones increase their levels, and your body gets through a pretty complex transformation, as it needs to make room for the baby and ensure the best conditions for their health and comfort. All these adjustments can be scary sometimes, and stressful, as you’ll be constantly thinking if you are doing the best for your little one, and, in this context, your favorite gym routine, may be challenged as well.
If you have practicing Pilates before the pregnancy, you are probably wondering if it is still safe to do it while expecting a baby. Or you may be thinking to begin now, and use this technique as a way to relax and strengthen your body so it can support the pregnancy. In both cases, it is possible. But there are still some restrictions that need to be taken into consideration to make sure that both you and the baby remain safe during the routine. So, stay with us as we are about to explore this subject in detail in today’s article and provide you with advice for each pregnancy trimester.
What Is Pilates?
When Joseph Pilates invented this method, he saw it as a way to help the soldiers wounded in World War I recover and become functional again. It consisted of a set of exercises, designed to activate and stimulate all the muscles in the body, while encouraging good posture and stability, and this technique is still used today with some variations.
Pilates can be practiced on a mat or by using an apparatus . At the same time, you can choose to join a gym class or hire a personal trainer, who can come to your home and help you work out in your own rhythm.
But this technique isn’t only about physical exercise. It can help you disconnect from your daily worries (which can be a lot for a pregnant woman) and focus on the exercises only. It is a great way of eliminating stress and finding interior balance, and it will help you deal easier with the emotions and discomfort associated with pregnancy.
How Can Doing Pilates during Pregnancy Benefit You?
There’s one point we need to clarify before listing all the advantages you’ll get from doing these exercises, and this is that you’ll need to check first with your physician. They may recommend avoiding some exercises or, in some cases, not to do any of them. No matter the response, make sure to follow it, as it is your baby’s health that’s in the game, and you wouldn’t want to endanger it in any way.
Now, assuming you have received a positive response, here is a list with the advantages you’ll get by practicing Pilates:
- It reduces back pain – As your tummy is growing, more pressure gets put on the back and this leads to back pain. But if fortify your stomach muscles through regulate exercise, they will balance your pelvic and back muscles and decrease the pain.
- It helps you fortify your pelvic floor – It usually needs to sustain your bladder and bowels, but now there’s a baby in the womb who puts more pressure on it. By exercising these muscles, you will be able to control them better and use them to push when the moment comes.
- It helps you regain balance – Your belly is growing, so your body may require some time to get accustomed to the transformations. Meanwhile, you can help it by fortifying your core and gaining stability.
- It teaches you a breathing technique – You will practice it throughout the routine but you can use it every time you feel stressed and even when you give birth.
Low-impact workouts are the best to be practiced while expecting a baby, and this is what Pilates is. You will not be running or jumping or doing sudden movements that can bother the infant. Instead, you will do everything slowly, just enough to improve blood circulation and feel more energized.
Are There Any Risks?
First, there’s a small human growing in your belly, so you will need to be extra careful with the way you use your body. Intense effort isn’t recommended while expecting, so if you have been doing Pilates before and have gotten to an advanced level that requires executing difficult exercises, you will want to reduce their intensity a bit and maybe lower the level. Beginner routines work perfectly in this situation.
Secondly, you will want to avoid sitting on your belly, as the pressure can reflect upon the baby. Plus, you won’t be feeling comfortable at all. Usually, you will want to avoid the maneuvers that put pressure on your abdominal cavity and focus more on working your thighs and improving your posture.
Another risk that may appear with the pregnancy is diastasis, which means that your abdominal muscles can separate, creating a hole around your belly button. If this condition appears, it is usually recommended to avoid physical practice until after birth.
Check If You Have Diastasis
- Lay on your back with your knees bent.
- Place your fingertips below your belly button at a distance of about one to two inches. Your fingertips should be pointing towards your feet.
- Elevate your head as high as possible.
- If you fill a protuberance emerging from the middle of your ab, then you have diastasis, and you should go for a consult.
When you reach the 2nd trimester, you should try not to stay on your back, as this can block the blood supply to the baby. Moreover, it is not recommended to use the reformer anymore, and you should avoid movements that require you to jump or exercise you vigorously.
Doing Pilates One Trimester at a Time
The best way to ensure that you stay safe while practicing pregnancy Pilates, it to make a plan for each trimester and use it. A personal trainer who is specialized in circumstances of this type can help you with recommendations. Simultaneously, you should listen to your body. It will tell you if you are putting too much effort, and you will know when to stop.
To make things easier, we’ve prepared a list with things you should, depending on the gravidity stage you are:
You’ve just found out you are expecting, and the changes aren’t visible yet, although there’s a lot taking place in your uterus. Fortunately, few things can be regarded as risks at this point, but it is a great moment to start getting prepared for “the bump”.
- Let your instructor know you are pregnant – They will be able to provide a specialized routine for you, even if your body hasn’t changed yet. They can teach you how to identify signals and know when something’s wrong. Plus, you’ll probably get lots of encouragements.
- Give your body the attention it needs – There’s two of you now, and your child may not be content with the stuff you used to like the most. You will be feeling nauseous or fatigued. When this occurs, it is better to take a break or change your routine with an easier one.
- Recall the basics – The first thing you’ve learned when you’ve started the classes was to breathe correctly.
You’ve probably started to get over the nausea and tiredness associated with the 1st trimester and the famous glow may be already showing on your face and hair. Nevertheless, your belly has grown, and you already feel that you no longer have the same mobility.
Here’s what you need to do at this point:
- Don’t stand on your back – The baby has gained weight and will put pressure on your aorta and inferior cava vein. This means that the blood circulation toward your uterus will be restricted and you will start feeling dizzy. Plus, your baby surely won’t appreciate not receiving the nutrients on time.
- Don’t stand on your belly either – Your body will let you know this isn’t ok as you won’t feel comfortable at all. Therefore, this is the moment to say goodbye to the Swimming movement.
- Use a wedge – The positions in which you feel comfortable will become fewer and fewer, but you can aid your body sit more comfortably by using a wedge. If you don’t have one available, you can replace it with a cushion or a jump board.
- Reduce flexion – Too much flexion can lead to diastasis recti, so it is time to stop doing the Hundred. You can replace them with a Spine Stretch executed while you are sitting.
You are already carrying a considerable extra load, and you are getting tired again. This is the most difficult period, so you’ll want to focus more on relaxation.
- Support your back – The pressure has already reached its peak, as your belly isn’t the only one pulling you towards the front but your breasts as well. Thus, you can try to open your chest through workout. An adjusted version of the Swan, done while you are sitting, is a great idea.
- Watch the belly button – If it is sore, don’t disregard the distress. It can be a sign of hernia, so you should let your doctor know about this.
- Just relax – The truth is that the back and pelvic pain won’t leave you until you give birth, so it’s time to use any means you have to feel better. If food makes you happy at this point, eat. If you feel tired, sleep. Soon you will be a mommy, and all this torment will be forgiven.
Remaining active throughout gravidity will help you carry all the load more easily. Your muscles will remain strong, and this is essential, as they need to support your baby, while your skin will stay flexible and ready to extend as your belly expands. And, if you need to choose an exercise routine for this period, Pilates is by far one of the best. The movements are slow and can be adapted as the gravidity advances. Plus, it offers plenty of benefits, and, as long as you follow some ground rules, the risks are minimal to none.