Pregnancy is a time of great joy and excitement, but it can also be a time of anxiety.
During pregnancy you're going to have a lot on your mind - morning sickness, doctor's appointments, baby names, decorating the nursery.
You'll want to make sure that you stay in shape during this special time in your life so that you can enjoy carrying around your little one for 9 months without feeling like an old lady when they come out.
But, can you do Pilates while pregnant? Is it safe? Are there any benefits of doing Pilates when I am pregnant?
These are some of the common questions that pregnant women have regarding Pilates. So, we decided to write this detailed guide to help you get the right answers in one place.
Can You Do Pilates While Pregnant?
Yes, you can do Pilates while pregnant. When you're doing prenatal yoga, pilates, or exercise class, remember that pregnancy is a time of great change and that your body will need to adjust as it grows.
Pilates exercises for pregnant women are designed to prepare the woman's body for labor and enable her to quickly regain her pre-pregnancy strength.
Pilates exercises for pregnant women don't place undue stress on the abdominal muscles which are in a state of extreme tension during pregnancy.
It can be done in pregnancy to help keep things strong, supple, and smooth.
As with all exercise programs, it's always best to be under the guidance of an experienced fitness instructor or personal trainer when doing Pilates exercises while pregnant.
Is it Safe to Do Pilates in Early Pregnancy?
Pilates is safe and ideal for pregnant women because it provides both physical and mental benefits while keeping with traditional exercise recommendations by doctors not to over-exert yourself during pregnancy.
It's important to choose exercises that are safe for you and your growing belly so consult with your doctor before starting any new workout routine or diet plan during pregnancy.
Pilates is safe in the earlier stages of pregnancy because it focuses on controlled movements that don't put pressure or stress on your body.
You should be able to breathe easily and stay relaxed throughout each Pilates exercise. Just make sure you stop if any pain or discomfort occurs, even mild pain is not normal for this type of workout.
It's also important to remember that you'll need to make some small changes in Pilates exercises during pregnancy.
Benefits of Doing Pilates While You're Pregnant
Pilates can provide many benefits for pregnant women by helping them maintain balance, flexibility, and strength while preparing their bodies for labor and delivery.
1. Strengthen Your Stomach and Gluteal Muscles
Pilates can help you strengthen your stomach and gluteal muscles, which are important during pregnancy.
The most common issue pregnant women face is lower back pain because of the added weight in their midsection.
During pregnancy, the pelvic floor muscles may stretch too much making it difficult for smaller people to control their bowel movements.
Pilates can help train the pelvic floor muscles and strengthen your stomach so you're able to remain active during all stages of pregnancy.
2. Enables You to Maintain a Healthy Weight While Pregnant
During pregnancy, many women find that they gain weight faster than what is recommended by their doctors.
It's important for pregnant women to eat right and exercise to ensure that their babies are born healthy.
Pilates can help you stay fit by focusing on your abdominal muscles, which are the main way of burning calories in the body.
Pilates exercises can also help pregnant women monitor their energy intake because you'll need enough energy to fuel your workouts while growing a baby at the same time.
3. Reduces Back Pain and Cramps
Pilates will help you reduce back pain and cramps by training your abdominal muscles. This can also help prevent future problems while strengthening the pelvic floor muscles, which is important during pregnancy.
Many women experience lower back pain in early pregnancy but this can often be a product of poor posture, lack of sleep, and other health issues.
Pregnancy is the perfect time to make sure that your body prepares itself for labor by exercising regularly.
If you practice Pilates throughout pregnancy, you'll be able to work out the kinks in your back to prevent future pain and discomfort.
4. Controls Your Breathing
Pregnant women often find that they have a difficult time controlling their breathing, especially as the baby grows.
Since Pilates is a controlled form of exercise, it can help you develop better breathing techniques and control your focus on specific muscles which are key to staying active during pregnancy.
5. Improves Balance and Coordination
Pregnancy can cause a lot of issues with balance and coordination as the baby grows.
In addition, you may also experience dizziness from hormonal changes that take place during pregnancy.
Pilates can help improve your balance and coordination by training your muscles for daily life activities such as standing up from a seated position or lifting groceries from the floor.
6. Reduces Strain When You Get In & Out of Bed
When you're pregnant, you'll likely experience strain on your back when getting in and out of bed due to the extra weight.
Pilates can help reduce this strain by training your abdominal muscles while also lifting the baby upward instead of out to the side. This will make it easier for you to get in and out of bed without causing injury to your back.
7. Improves Digestion and Blood Circulation
Pilates can improve your digestion and blood circulation by strengthening the core muscles, which are key to improving these functions.
In addition, Pilates is a great way for pregnant women to stay active instead of just sitting around for most of their pregnancy.
8. Speeds Up Recovery Postpartum
Pilates can help you recover faster after giving birth by focusing on recovering your core muscles, which are often weak after childbirth.
Since Pilates is a low-impact workout, it's perfect for women who have recently given birth because there's less of a chance that you'll injure yourself.
Pilates Exercises To Avoid When You're Pregnant
While the benefits of Pilates are endless, there are a few exercises that should be avoided during pregnancy.
1. Avoid all abdominal work (except Double Leg Lift) during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
2. Avoid exercises that pull your head toward the floor – this puts a lot of pressure on your neck and can cause lower back pain while pregnant.
3. Avoid exercises that require you to lie flat on the floor because this could apply too much pressure on your belly or uterus, which may cause premature contractions.
4. Avoid exercises that make you hold your breath because this will only increase the pressure on your uterus and may cause contractions.
5. Avoid pushing from a prone position – This puts too much strain on the upper body, which could cause issues during labor.
6. Avoid supine positions (lying on the back) after the first trimester.
7. Avoid exercises that cause you to twist your body because this could strain the ligaments in your uterus and lead to contractions.
8. Avoid any workout when you feel faint, dizzy, or have lower back pain during exercise.
Signs to Stop Exercising
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, it's best to stop exercising immediately.
- Vaginal bleeding
- Unusual shortness of breath
- Abdominal pain
- Regular painful contractions
- Chest pain
- Amniotic fluid leakage
- Calf pain or swelling
During pregnancy, your body is working hard — this isn't the moment to push or develop your practice. It's a chance to tune into your body and listen to what it has to say.
If you have been exercising prior to becoming pregnant, you can continue your regular Pilates practice during pregnancy.
However, be sure to modify any exercises that would apply too much pressure on the belly or uterus, and also avoid putting your head toward the floor because this could cause contractions.