Pre-natal Pilates is a great exercise method that helps to physically prepare a mother for birth. Women experience several physical and hormonal changes throughout pregnancy and exercise during this period can be a great way to help deal with the changes. Pre-natal Pilates is modified to be safe and suitable for pregnant women from the first trimester, all the way through to birth.
What is so great about modified Pilates during pregnancy?
1. Prevents lower back and pelvic pain
Pilates targets the core and the muscles that provide stability and support for the spine, pelvis and hips. Strengthening these muscles will help manage the demands on the body as weight increases (from the growth of the baby) and the changes in the body during pregnancy.
2. Improves posture and body awareness
As the baby grows, the mother's posture will also change. Often the shoulders become more rounded and the pelvis tilts more anteriorly, which can place extra pressure on the lower back. Becoming more aware of posture and working to maintain a good posture will reduce any posture-related problems such as neck and back pain.
3. Maintains pelvic floor muscle strength and prevents incontinence
It is not as scary as it sounds! The pelvic floor muscle (PFM) is like a broad sheet of muscles and tissues that provide support for your bladder, bowel and uterus. It starts from the pubic bone in the front of the body and attaches at the base of your spine at the back.
Being pregnant can place a lot of stress on the PFM and if weight bears down on it for a long time (as it does during pregnancy) the muscles can become over-stretched and weak. Studies have shown that maintaining PFM strength significantly reduces the risk of urinary incontinence. It’s also part of your ‘core’ muscles that provide support for your lower back, pelvis and hip stability.
4. Enhances movement efficiency
Pilates focuses on mindful controlled movement patterns that engage specific muscles. This will improve and develop good movement patterns and energise you!
5. Maintains flexibility
Pilates has an element of stretching and lengthening during movement. Areas that often become tight are the chest, upper back and legs. These areas will benefit from low intensity exercises that work on mobility. A combination of strength and flexibility will leave the body feeling much lighter and relaxed as well as improve circulation.
6. Prepares the body for labour
In addition to all the great things mentioned already, Pilates and exercise can help to prepare the body for labour through controlled breathing and understanding the changes your body has been through.
7. Speeds up post-natal recovery
Prenatal exercises have been linked to helping new mothers recover faster after the birth as there is an existing foundation to build on.
Regular exercise can make you feel stronger and more energetic and has numerous benefits for pregnant women. The type of exercise and the frequency will depend on how active you are before being pregnant. Therefore, before engaging in any form of exercise during pregnancy, it is recommended to seek advice from your Doctor or relevant medical specialist.
UFIT Clinic’s Women’s Health Service team is specially designed to educate and prepare mum-to-bes to be physically, mentally, and emotionally ready for the arrival of your new baby. It brings together a team of women’s health specialists, including physiotherapists, massage therapists, nutritionists, psychologists and Pilates instructors.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dipti Mistry is a UK trained Sports Therapist and an APPI (Australian Physiotherapy & Pilates Institute) trained Mat instructor. She specialises in sports injuries, from assessment to full rehabilitation while incorporating Pilates principles into her programs. She believes in the importance of encouraging energy efficient movement patterns and postural/body awareness which reduces the risk of further injuries. Through Pilates she has developed a deeper understanding of chronic over-use problems and postural/muscular imbalances that are often related to lower back pain, shoulder and neck issues. As well as clinical practice, she has also worked alongside professional and amateur teams in football, field hockey, rugby, tennis and athletics in London and Singapore.