Today pilates has gained a worldwide recognition. One can hardly find a single modern fitness center without pilates program.
This system of bodily exercises was created by Joseph Pilates more than 100 years ago and was designed to aftercare injured shut-in soldiers. Recently this system of exercises has been adopted for pregnant women and has proved its effectiveness.
Pilates and pregnancy
One of the most popular question among pregnant ladies is: “Can I do pilates while pregnant?” and in order to answer on it properly let us consider all pros and cons of this kind of exercises.
Starting pilates when pregnant can be dangerous in several occasions:
- If there are medical conditions connected with the work of the respiratory and cardiovascular systems.
- If a woman has a difficult and troublesome pregnancy, i.e. morning sickness, significant weight gain, edema.
- Threatened miscarriage.
- Low insertion of placenta.
- If there are chronic or pregnancy-emergent medical conditions, connected with locomotor system.
Also you might be interested in the articles “Pilates reformer while pregnant” and “Pilates or yoga during pregnancy?”.
So, as you can see, there is no definite answer on the question: “Is pilates safe during pregnancy?”, because everyone’s health is unique and that’s why it is necessary to ask your doctor first.
What are the benefits of practicing Pilates for mothers-to-be?
- Pilates in pregnancy helps to prepare the body for childbirth, it reduces the risk of complications and injuries during delivery and the postnatal period.
- Moreover, pilates exercises improve muscle tone, reduce the risk of muscle bundles during the process of delivery.
- Though doing pilates when pregnant you can learn the proper breathing technique, improves blood circulation and increases the oxygen saturation of the internal organs of the woman and of the child in the womb.
- Pilates for pregnant women adds flexibility to muscles and teaches them to relax. And it is an indispensable skill during delivery process.
- Furthermore, pilates during pregnancy helps to avoid cramps and varicose veins – frequent companions of pregnancy.
- It has been scientifically proven that, pilates for pregnant women has a beneficial effect on the state of the pelvic muscles, increases muscle endurance.
- Besides, pilates for pregnant ladies does not facilitate an increase in muscle mass, it rather helps to improve coordination, develop a sense of balance, which is very important during pregnancy.
- Such sport exercises draw attention away from disturbing thought, the nervous system is stabilized, the possibility of falling into depression is reduced.
During pregnant pilates exercises it is very essential to analyze your own feelings and condition: sense of discomfort and muscle soreness are inadmissible. Discomfort during exercise – a reason to quit the exercise.
You should bear in mind, that the exercises, based on jumps and breath-holding are forbidden, as well as exercises with power load. Also, it is not recommended to lie down on your stomach while pregnant.
By the end of the second trimester you should avoid movements with the initial position – lying on your back. Carefully perform exercises that are connected with abdominal muscles and joints, mind your balance.
You should avoid intense exercises: the rhythm should be steady, moderate. Mind your breathing. You should not feel fatigue after exercises. Three times a week is a normal schedule for a pregnant woman.
Remember, that only the well-organized training under the guidance of an experienced coach will help you to prepare for the childbirth.
Trimester-based Pilates exercises
Now when you have an idea of the connection between pilates and pregnancy – let’s move to the specific exercises which will be suitable for different periods of pregnancy.
The first trimester is the most crucial time of pregnancy: the organs of future baby are beginning to form, as well as placenta, through which the fetus gets its blood supply.
If a woman is constantly involved in sports, the intensity of Pilates exercises should be slightly and gradually decreased towards the second trimester. Those women, who never trained, and have decided to engage in Pilates for pregnant, are better to do it under the guidance of coach in a gym.
During your first trimester you can perform the following Pilates exercises, which are the easiest ones:
- A movement for proper breathing: legs shoulder-width apart and on the full foot. Hands freely along the body. Rhythmic breathing: breast separately, stomach separately. Imagine that you inflate a balloon in your chest, then in your stomach. During inhalation try to stretch at full length, as if you try to get off the ground.
- Warm up for the neck muscles: the head is tilted left or right, forward – backward. Head rotation without throwing it back. You should not move your shoulders.
- Lungs work out: hands are on the level of your shoulders during inhale – during exhale return to the starting stance.
- Original stance – lean on your knees and palms. During inhale rise your arms parallel to the horizontal surface, the leg that corresponds your arm is straightened and thrusted out. On the exhale come to the original stance. During the next inhale rise your second arm and the corresponding leg.
- “The cat”. Original stance as in the previous exercise. Inhale and arch up your spine, exhale – return to the original stance.
- “The saw”. Sit down on the mat, legs and arms are opened out, your back is straight. Twist your body left and right.
In order to have a rest, do the following exercises:
- From emphasis on the palms slightly sit on your heels, the body is lowered down, the back muscles are relaxed as much as possible, stretch your arms in front of you.
About restrictions and dangerous poses you will know from the article “Pilates and pregnancy first trimester”.
During this period your belly is starting to grow and you already feel some changes within your body and the entire organism. Also, you can feel discomfort in your joints, as the hormone relaxing makes your ligaments to stretch more than usual.
You should exclude those exercises, that can provoke overstrain in hips and thighs, as well as in inguinal region. While doing pilates during pregnancy second trimester you should slightly reduce the number of exercises connected with the supine stance, because they can affect the baby with oxygen delivery.
On your second trimester you should do the same exercises as for the first trimester, but you can add some exercises that will help your future baby to get the proper position within your belly:
- Original stance – lean on your knees and palms, mind your breathing, inhale deep with your nose, exhale deep with your mouth. Stand in this position for 15 minutes.
- Lie on your right body side, relax and mind your breathing. In 10 minutes change the body side, slightly rolling through your belly. Repeat the exercise on your left body side for another 10 minutes.
- Sit down on the mat. Cross your legs in front of you, your spine should be stretched, your back – upright and straight. Slightly turn your head from left to right, and then begin to turn your torso together with your head.
During this exercise your arms also should work – move them apart and perform rotational motions, starting from your hand to your shoulders. Repeat the exercise 10 times, and then relax for 60 seconds.
The third trimester is the most difficult for your musculoskeletal system, your spine and legs are mostly overloaded with heavy belly, the risks of feet swelling and varicose veins are at the highest. You should bear in mind, that during the third trimester you should significantly reduce the load (comparing with the first two trimesters), the exercises should be relaxing, should not contain jerks and snaps, turns and bents.
Now, the exercises should help you to reduce the possible swellings, normalize the blood pressure, and relieve your spine.
- Don’t forget about “the cat” exercise. Original stance as in the previous exercise. Inhale and arch up your spine, exhale – return to the original stance.
- Perform the exercise that will provide you the slight stretching: the original stance – legs shoulder-width apart and on the full foot. Slightly press your hands on your knees, so that they can slightly sag. Quit this exercise in case you feel any discomfort.
- Also you can do some easy twisting of your torso. Original stance – sit down on the mat, arms apart, legs stretched in front of you. Without moving your hips, slightly twist your body from left to right.
So, it can be clearly seen that doing pilates while pregnant is very useful not only for future mother but also for baby. Pilates exercises are not designed to help you to lose some extra weight or to increase your muscle mass.
Pilates is aimed at helping you to bear your child easily, have safe pregnancy, delivery and improve the general condition, stimulating metabolic processes in the body. If you decide to engage in Pilates while pregnant, please, consult your doctor first.