Over the winter I was fortunate to go back to the Body Control Pilates training centre to study pre and post natal Pilates.
Doing the course really made me realise the importance of practicing Pilates pre and post birth.
When a woman becomes pregnant she starts to release a hormone called relaxin (which is still released throughout breastfeeding post birth) this causes ligaments to loosen, which is vital in pregnancy. However as Pilates is a practice where you must control what is stable and what is moving, the loose limbs prove much more difficult to produce a stable base to work from!
This is why it is very important that your teacher provides you with safe exercises which do not prove too challenging for you to maintain this stability and also why it’s very beneficial to visually have a teacher there with you to check this is all happening correctly!
Pilates will help you to prepare for labour by helping with your breathing and stamina. We do lots of exercises which help to strengthen your hips and ‘squat’ type exercises which is the ideal position for birth.
Another massive benefit is how it will help the health of your pelvic floor, with exercises that aid in keeping the tone, it is the base of the pelvic area and holds all that extra weight on top, so it’s very important to have a bit of extra attention!... this is where the post natal Pilates comes in handy too to help to strengthen the pelvic floor back afterwards.
Post birth, the abdominal muscles have had to stretch apart and it is important that we do not do deep abdominal curl-up work too quickly as this can prevent the muscles from coming back together again. Once it’s been okayed by the Dr to go back to exercise, we’ll focus on strengthening your core support muscles and help the body to regain its alignment as usually the relationship between the ribcage and pelvis has shifted. Pilates exercises are also the perfect way to relieve tight/sore neck and shoulders after feeding the baby.
Always check with you doctor before going back to exercise and preferably have a few 1:1 classes when you first go back to classes.