Hey there! If you’re reading this, we’re betting you’ve got a little bump coming up and we’re so excited you decided to stop by and say hi. Whether you’re looking to continue your Pilates regimen or are considering it for the first time, maybe you’re wondering: is Pilates good for pregnancy?
The short answer is, yes! It’s a no-impact workout that will increase your flexibility, your strength and your muscle tone, as well as contributes to overall mental health. Pilates targets so many important muscles but a few that are especially nice to keep strong for pregnancy are your stabilizer muscles, your iliopsoas, and your internal obliques. In other words, Pilates and pregnancy are kind of best friends.
Can you do Pilates in early pregnancy?
As with any decision you’re going to be making at this exciting time in your life, it’s important to check in with your body, see what feels right, and keep your doctor in the loop. In the first trimester, you may want to curtail the amount of “sit up” exercises you perform. Try letting your instructor know, as well, so they can keep you in mind and give you a little pregnancy Pilates class of your own.
Once you’re in your second trimester, it’s a good idea to avoid any exercises that put you on your back. The weight of your uterus can press on the main vein that carries blood from your lower body to your heart and compressing it can interfere with both your and your baby’s circulation.
What exercises are safe during pregnancy?
We’re so happy you asked. Here are a few that are amazing, no matter which trimester you’re in.
- The Cat Stretch: this one’s great for your back muscles. Begin by getting on all fours, keeping your hands beneath the shoulders and knees beneath the hips. As you breathe in, draw your tummy inwards, arch your back upwards and bend your head down. Breathe in again as you return gently to the starting position.
- The Thigh Stretch: strengthens your abs, your lower back, hips, and booty. Stay on your knees for this one, about hip-width apart, and pull in your abs. As you breathe, lean back, squeeze your butt, and raise your arms parallel to the floor. As you lower your arms, breathe out.
- The Sword: improves balance, strengthens abs, back and legs. Stand for this one, with your feet wider than your hips. Bend your knees and move your right hand toward your left knee. Now, as if you’re pulling a sword out of the (imaginary) hilt on your hip, raise your hand upward and to the right, keeping your eye on your hand as you go. Repeat with the other hand.
- Upper Back Stretch: great for your posture. Sit cross-legged with your back in an upright position, with your hands behind your head. Take a deep, slow breath. As you breathe out, draw in your tummy and extend your back while looking up at the ceiling. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you take another breath and return to the starting position.
Let your instructor know you’re pregnant and they’ll be able to guide you further into the whole range of great exercises for you to engage in. Pilates for pregnancy is effective in that it focuses on your core, which helps stabilize your back muscles and support that growing bump of yours. Keeping these muscles strong helps day to day, with labor, and with delivery. However you decide to deliver, you’ll want to give your body some time but when you’re ready, Pilates after pregnancy is really great as well!
Now, you may be wondering which is better, yoga or Pilates, for your pregnancy? No matter which you choose, you’re making a good choice for your health over the term of your pregnancy. It all depends on what you’re looking for. Generally speaking, yoga is really good for increasing and maintaining a good range of motion. If you’re a beginner, though, the poses can be tricky to get into, even if you’re going to classes with an instructor. There is also much less focus on strengthening and toning particular muscle groups. With Pilates during pregnancy, you get the benefit of aerobic exercise as well as anaerobic exercise, which combines the benefits of cardiovascular as well as strength-building work.
Another benefit of Pilates, one you’ll likely want to take advantage of at a studio, is the Reformer. Picture a padded platform, lifted off the ground a couple of feet and supported by a structure that allows it to roll back and forth, pulled by a system of bungies that you can either hold onto or put your feet in. There’s also a collapsible, padded bar that works as a support for your feet on certain exercises. Pilates reformer during pregnancy is really nice because it provides a smooth, incredibly targeted group of exercises that focus on strength, on flexibility, and, maybe most importantly of all, on the simple joy of exercising.
No matter what way you choose to exercise, if it’s yoga, or walking, or if you’ve already brought your little human into the world and are for the first time jumping into post pregnancy Pilates, remember to breathe and to enjoy. You’re doing an amazing job!