Modified Pilates during Pregnancy

&

Post Pregnancy

The Benefits of Pilates During Pregnancy

  • Better posture.
  • Improved functional strength and stamina.
  • Efficient breathing & improved circulation.
  • Aids relaxation.
  • Both mental and physical training, ideal preparation for labour and an aid during recovery post pregnancy.

Pilates’ exercise focuses on education of ideal spine and joint alignment and includes movements to address muscular imbalance caused by weak muscle groups that inevitably tighten other areas of the body. 

Unlike other recognised forms of fitness, Pilates’ exercise targets the deep postural muscles building strength from the inside out, a vital aspect considering the effects pregnancy has on the body and the noticeable changes in posture occur.

 

Postural Issues that Arise during Pregnancy

  • Lumbar tightness causing back ache
  • Rounding of upper back and shoulders
  • Weak shoulder girdle
  • Separation of the linea alba ligament (diastasis recti)
  • Weak Pelvic Floor Muscles
  • Breathlessness & Poor Blood Circulation
  • Disruption to sleep patterns

Pilates' exercise will help with all of the above

 

Exercise During Pregnancy

If a mum-to-be has no medical complications or pre-existing conditions such as a history of miscarriages, medical and fitness professionals agree that any exercise including Pilates is safe during pregnancy.  It must be remembered that the predominant aim is to maintain pre-pregnancy fitness levels rather than improve them.  Therefore, the best advice for anyone who is planning a pregnancy is to commence some form of exercise regime prior to becoming pregnant. 

 Those who are used to exercising prior to pregnancy and have a good level of fitness may continue to exercise throughout their pregnancy although they will have to consider making some changes including performing lower-intensity levels.  If pregnancy is suspected, all exercise should be ceased until the pregnancy has been confirmed and medical clearance to exercise has been obtained.

Those with a more sedentary lifestyle and who are not used to exercising prior to pregnancy, may start an exercise programme but the programme should be an appropriate level for their current fitness level.

It is not advisable for anyone who has become pregnant as a result of IVF treatment to participate in Pilates’ exercise until after the baby is born, irrespective of whether they have done Pilates before or not.

Medical clearance must be obtained prior to participating in any physical exercise irrespective of whether the mum-to-be is physically active prior to pregnancy. 

Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaires (PARQ) including any relating to pregnancy must be completed. 

If any complications or health issues arise during pregnancy, all exercise including Pilates' activities should be stopped until you have received medical clearance from your GP or midwife that it is safe to return.

 

Warning Signs

You should stop exercising immediately and contact your GP or midwife if you experience any of the following:

  • Vaginal bleeding or excessive discharge from vagina
  • Abdominal or chest pain
  • Heart palpitations or shortness of breath
  • Sudden swelling of hands, feet or face
  • Severe, persistent headaches, dizziness or feeling faint
  • Raised blood pressure
  • Severe pain in pubic area or hips
  • Severe nausea or vomiting
  • Placenta Praevia (placenta too low or too close to cervix)
  • Severe anaemia or exhaustion
  • High temperature (over 100°F or 38°C)
  • Uterine contractions or breaking of waters
  • Baby small for date

 

We teach Modified Pilates, The Pilates Institute Method (PIM)

Based upon the guidelines and PIM class levels

Newcomers who are pregnant should attend an appropriate introduction lesson prior to commencing any Pilates activities.  Private lessons are recommended initially so that participants can learn the basic technique before being introduced to group classes.  Once group classes are appropriate, participants should attend fundamental level only where modified movements are performed. 

We do not advise starting Pilates after the 1st trimester especially as the movements deemed appropriate towards the middle and end of pregnancy are limited due to the restrictions imposed by the growing foetus.  For this reason, there is little benefit to be gained during pregnancy by those who have not done Pilates prior to pregnancy.  Instead, we advise that Pilates is commenced after the baby is born and as soon as you have medical clearance to return to exercise activities. 

Those who already attend classes, may continue to attend the same class level that they attended prior to being pregnant for the first trimester.  During the remainder of the pregnancy (2nd/3rd trimesters), they may continue to attend the same class level that they attended prior to pregnancy as long as they modify movements accordingly.  Alternatively, they may prefer to attend a Beginner level class, a level at which most of the movements are either appropriate during pregnancy or  can be modified.  During the 3rd trimester, it is advisable that anyone who is pregnant attends fundamental level due to the limited movements and restrictions imposed by the growing foetus.

 

Post Pregnancy

Anyone, irrespective of whether they attended Pilates or not during pregnancy, may participate in Pilates’ exercise if they have attended the 6-week check-up (8-10 weeks for Caesarean Section) and obtained medical clearance to return to exercise. This timescale allows time for the abdominal muscles to close and re-align.

A Physical-Activity Readiness Questionnaire (P-ARQ) relating to post-pregnancy should be completed. 

Waiting until the 6-week check-up (8-10 weeks C-Section) does not mean you cannot exercise at all. 

 

Those who participate in Pilates after pregnancy should attend a fundamental level lesson initially and progression to higher lesson levels should not be rushed.

 When attending a higher-level lesson, initially similar modifications as those performed during pregnancy should be performed.

 

Using a Stability Ball during Pregnancy

Whilst using a stability ball may be encouraged during pregnancy, please note the following:-

  • Balancing on a suitably inflated stability ball is extremely challenging and is advisable only for those who already possess a high level of core strength and balance. Those who do not possess sufficient core strength or balance would be advised to use a chair or stool initially as this will facilitate an upright spine alignment and a more stable surface, both essential when strengthening the core muscles.
  • Choose a stability ball that is the correct size for your height and ensures that your hips are slightly higher than your knees when it is inflated to its maximum (for most women 50cm is about right). A soft stability ball offers little challenge and may result in poor spine and/or hip/knee alignment.
 

We provide this information in booklet form for mums-to-be who attend our classes which contains further information that you may find helpful.  You can download a copy from this page.

 

 

Client Feedback

"I am so glad that I kept up my Pilates’ classes throughout my pregnancy and was able to progress through my pregnancy without any lower back pain."