PREGNANCY AND POST-NATAL PILATES

Pilates is well known for being an excellent form of exercise when pregnant and for post-birth. If you haven’t given it a go before, you may have a few questions and want to know a little more about it. The fundamentals of Pilates – breathing, alignment, mobility, total body conditioning and low impact exercise – are perfectly suited to a woman’s body undergoing the many changes we experience during pregnancy and after birth. But why do we recommend that you give it a go?

We sat down with Amanda Calland, our Pilates expert on the Bumps & Burpees platform, to pick her brains and find out all you need to know as well as address any concerns that you may have ahead of your first class.

amanda calland, pregnancy pilates instructor

FOR PREGNANCY 

Can I do Pilates all the way through pregnancy? 

Yes 100%.  Pilates can really support you through each of the trimesters and beyond! 

In addition to strengthening and conditioning the entire body,  Pilates can help counterbalance pregnancy niggles. Glute strengthening & core moves can prevent postural problems in result of a growing bump. The breathing techniques also energise the body helping us cope with the hormonal roller coaster. Pilates is amazing for your core and pelvic floor muscles, keeping them working all the way through pregnancy will significantly help with postpartum recovery. A strong core reduces any back pain from a growing bump too.

Are there any specific movements/exercises in pilates that I need to avoid during pregnancy?

There are a few adaptions that need to made as your bump grows and relaxin hormones increase. These include; laying on your tummy, any movements that over twist your core from side to side, laying on your back for long periods of time after 20 weeks and finally any deep stretches. My biggest advice is just to listen to your own body. If you are fit you’ll find you can do more with ease for longer as your body is already used to it. A Pilates newbie or exercise beginner would need to be more careful, get in tune with your body and do what feels right for you.  

Will Pilates help prepare my body for birth?

Oooooh yes! The pelvic floor exercises that we practice in Pilates will not only keep those muscles strong but also help you relax them when the time comes for a natural birth, helping your baby come out. You’ll also build your body awareness and learn to control different muscles in your body such as core and glutes which help with delivery / birth. 

Is it safe to do core exercises whilst pregnant? 

100% and I cannot stress enough how important it is to do gentle core all the way through. If you stop or not do any, your core muscles are more likely to stretch and tear, rather than stretch and come back together at the end. I know from working with lots of pregnancy clients and also from my own experience. None of which experienced any abdominal separation. Core exercises are of course tailored depending on your trimester. It’s still safe to lay on your back in the 1st for example. From the 2nd / 3rd other modifications include being on all 4s, elevating the lower back by laying on a Pilates ball, glutes bridge positions and laying on the side. I’m the biggest advocate for light core whilst pregnant 🙂 

Is it safe to do reformer Pilates in pregnancy or best to stick to the mat?
Yes it’s absolutely safe to do both forms The only change that the reformer allows is more stretching because of the added spring tensions. Any resistance added on the reformer should not be more than what you did pre-pregnancy. Just focus on maintaining strength rather than building. Please make sure you join a mat or Pilates reformer class with an instructor who is prenatal qualified as there’s lots of adaptations and you want to be in safe hands!  

pregnancy and post natal pilates

POST-NATAL

How soon can you start Pilates after having a baby? 

Pilates as perfect for postpartum recovery! If you’ve had a natural birth with no complications any time from 6 weeks is recommended, but you could always start with very light core, breathing and pelvic floor exercises from 5 weeks. If you’ve had a C section it will be dependent on your own recovery and make sure you’ve had the all clear from the Dr first. Just listen to your own body. Every women will have niggles in different areas as every pregnancy is different. For example my core was absolutely fine but I struggled with lunges for quite a while.

Is it suitable for women with diastasis recti?  Will it help strengthen my core safely? 

Yes absolutely! In Pilates we focus on activating your deep abdominals which can play a huge role in healing diastasis recti. The gentle core exercises will help you close the gap on your own and minimise getting surgery. Healing ‘d-r’ does take a bit of time though so please don’t rush and start off with very gentle core moves. 

Does pilates help strengthen the pelvic floor?

100% Pelvic floor muscles are the foundation for the core of our bodies. They stabilise the pelvis and support our organs such as our bladders and uterus. They form part of our core powerhouse which is the fundamental area Pilates focuses on. 

Where should I start if I’ve never done pilates before?

Find a fundamentals class so you can understand the Pilates principles and build up your confidence with all the basic moves. It’s important to learn how to control your body from the start to really get the most out of Pilates and reap all the wonderful benefits. My postnatal programme on the B&B online platform is a fab place to start. 

AND FINALLY

Do I need to do pilates every day to make a difference?

If you can I would recommend practicing Pilates twice a week but even one class is better than nothing. On the Bumps & Burpees platform, I have created 30 minute classes that take you all the way through your pregnancy and a special post natal plan that re-introduces you to exercise in a 12-week programme. The beauty of the platform is that you can repeat your favourite classes as many times as you want as well knowing that everything in the class is perfectly safe for you and your baby.

Pregnancy and post-natal pilates does require a few modifications for certain movements and the most important thing to remember is that it is not competitive. It’s time to get in tune with your body and move in a way that feels right for you. Whether you take your pilates classes online or in-person, we recommend that you only use a Pilates instructor who is a qualified pre and post-natal teacher to ensure you are safe and supported through your class.

If you would like to participate in face to face classes with Amanda, she is based in Hampshire and you can find out more here.

Leave a Reply