If you want a way to stay active when you’re pregnant, prenatal pilates is a great choice. Where postnatal pilates exist to help you recover after your child’s birth, prenatal pilates is more geared towards health, preparation and staying active in a safe manner in the lead-up to your baby’s delivery.
If you’re considering taking these classes, this article has all the information you’ll need.
Prenatal pilates classes are specially designed to strengthen pregnant women and improve their flexibility, core strength, and postpartum recovery. Prenatal Pilates excludes all exercises that would cause unnecessary pressure or tension on the pregnant body and guides pregnant women through modified exercises and stretches.
Prenatal pilates classes are low-impact in nature and focus on strengthening all of the muscle groups that can help manage pain during labour.
There are some incredible benefits to undertaking regular prenatal pilates (if you’re medically cleared, of course). And they are as follows:
Getting Back To Yourself
One of the concerns of active women, when they become pregnant, is how their physical health and fitness will be affected. The concern is that the body loses strength and the kilos pile on. This fear is not unfounded either, as having a baby makes many unique new demands on the body.
Getting back in shape and returning to pre-pregnancy health, body fat percentage, physical performance, and weight can be difficult. This can be even more difficult if you stop exercising completely during this time. Staying active with prenatal pilates will make it much easier for your body to return to your pre-pregnancy weight and athleticism, but even if you can’t get back to the exact same body, you will at least feel a little more comfortable in whatever post-partum body you have.
Activating your Pelvic Floor
You may have heard of Kegel exercises. The real value of Kegel exercises is to strengthen the pelvic floor during pregnancy. Your pelvic floor is the support system for your lower abdominal and pelvic organs. As the uterus grows during pregnancy, it needs the support of a strong pelvic floor. Prenatal Pilates helps women gain control of their pelvis by contracting and relaxing these muscles. This is very beneficial during childbirth.
Improved Breathing Habits
One of the focal points of pregnancy pilates is breathing and breathing control. As a baby grows inside the womb, it eventually presses up against the diaphragm and the chest cavity. While a woman’s oxygen capacity stays the same, it isn’t uncommon for her to feel like she is having trouble breathing. Pilates-style breathing encourages you to recruit your intercostal muscles that line your ribcage, which will help you take deep breaths, even with that pressure on your diaphragm.
Improved Strength & Posture
From the start of pregnancy, your posture will change. This can lead to imbalances in your body that can lead to pain and discomfort. The hard thing is that you can’t prevent your posture and alignment from changing during pregnancy, but you can strengthen the core muscles to help your body bear the load. By strengthening your hips, lower back and abdominal muscles, you can greatly reduce the pain you feel from this change in position. It also helps prevent permanent changes in position after delivery.
Strengthen Your Transverse Abdominis
It’s a misconception that women shouldn’t exercise their abs during pregnancy. In fact, during pregnancy, you need to use your abdominal muscles and lower back to stay healthy and reduce negative postures and tensions caused by pregnancy. It is important to note here that some abs exercises are suitable for expectant mothers and others that you should avoid altogether.
Prenatal Pilates focuses on strengthening the transverse abdominal muscle avoiding muscle recruitment and engagement. These muscles are most commonly associated when most of us refer to six-pack abs. Keeping your abs strong will help maintain a tight and strong core and prevent lower back weakness and temporary postural reorientation due to pregnancy.
Now that you’re aware of what prenatal pilates is, you should be aware that all reputable classes are undertaken by licensed physiotherapists and are traditionally small classes, and this means your individual needs will always be met, and you will be in the hands of experts the whole time.
Written by Clara Christopher