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The Pilates method is one of the most effective exercise programs to utilise during pregnancy.

Many changes occur for women during this extraordinary time, including hormonal changes, weight increase and physical distribution, balance and centre of gravity, postural, muscular and ligamentous changes.

Pilates exercise can help women cope with these changes, possibly avoid problems both during and post-natally, and assist with the actual birth. Many women who have remained consistent with their Pilates programs over their pregnancy report the benefits of conscious abdominal assistance, greater breathing capacity, leg strength and overall endurance during labour, and less post natal physical and postural concerns.

Recuperation is strongly aided by both preparation with the Pilates method and specific post natal Pilates programs addressing the needs according to the birth method and mum’s own physical needs and goals.

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There are so many ways in which Mums-to-be can be catered for with the Pilates method, with a 2009 American study finding that the most appropriate form of exercise during pregnancy is Pilates.

With the Pilates method we are able to reduce or eliminate load and gravity whilst at the same time being able to offer resistance in the exercises. This allows the expectant mum to undertake a full body conditioning regime in a manner that will not unduly stress joints that are less stable due to the effect of the hormone relaxin on the ligaments supporting the joints, and to be able to exercise in positions that are comfortable and corrective for the added postural effects of pregnancy.

During the pregnancy abdominals and pelvic floor muscles will need to be strong and able to support the growing baby, assist in good posture and aid in delivery. It is also very important to strengthen and stretch the back with particular attention on strengthening the upper back and lengthening of the lumbar. This will help to support the added weight of a growing baby and becomes even more important post birth when mum is always holding the new baby and breastfeeding.

After months of supporting a baby, labour and delivery, the abdominals and pelvic floor muscles are likely to have become stressed and stretched, and will need specific attention through physical exercise to activate and regain strength. Current figures report 1 in 3 women will become incontinent following childbirth, due to weak and ineffective pelvic floor muscles. This does not need to be the case when progressive, functional Pilates exercise can address these muscles in any capacity, no matter how weakened and what other conditions exist.

With Pilates moves being done in a controlled, focused manner, there is the time to adjust posture and alignment for maximum support and therefore be able to maintain a challenge level whilst staying safe with the movements.

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