Pilates workouts are great exercises for pregnancy. Pilates workouts are designed to be non-sweaty and relaxing, making it different from prenatal yoga, and other cardiovascular exercises such as running, cycling and swimming. The five hundred controlled exercises that Pilates consist of focus on quality, rather than quantity, of movement. The idea behind Pilates exercises are to improve posture, reduce stress, create long, lean muscles and improve body awareness. Pilates works several muscles groups at the same time with concentration on strengthening and stabilizing the core. The core consists of the abdomen, back, and pelvic girdle region. It may also be referred to as the base or the solid core and the muscles as the deep stabilizing muscles.
Pilates during pregnancy is designed to strengthen and tone the muscles you use to carry the baby, making your pregnancy a little easier. Stomach muscles can weaken during pregnancy, causing back and hip pain. In addition, pregnancy can weaken your pelvic floor muscles (your perineum area), causing leakage of urine during late pregnancy and potentially a harder delivery. Some experts even claim that Pilates exercises during pregnancy will make labor easier and using Pilates will help you lose your pregnancy weight after you deliver. Exercise during pregnancy encourages the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to your baby. In addition, Pilates is designed to use breathing and relaxation exercises so stress in your life is reduced.
Since many of the Pilates exercises are performed on hands and knees, Pilates during pregnancy is great because these exercises will help rotate your baby into a good position for delivery. Hands and knees exercises during pregnancy will help keep your baby out of the dreaded posterior position that causes longer and more painful deliveries (think back labor).
If you're curious how to practice Pilates during pregnancy, the following will help you to learn more about it. Remember that you should always check with your care provider before beginning any exercise program during pregnancy.
- Go to your local bookstore or Amazon and check out Pilates for Pregnancy by Michael King and Yolande Green and Pilates for Pregnancy: Gentle and Effective Techniques for Before and After Birth by Anna Selby. These books offer pictures and exercises for prenatal Pilates exercises.
- Buy a DVD or a video so you can actually see Pilates exercises being done by a trained instructor. A great DVD is "Pilates in Pregnancy," whether you already practice Pilates or know nothing about it. This DVD is great for early and later pregnancy and even discusses exercises to regain your figure after you deliver.
- Take a Pilates During Pregnancy class. Ask your childbirth educator, care provider, hospital or health club for recommendations. If you still can't find a class, you can also search online or in your phone book for a local instructor. Perhaps you could get together with other women who are also pregnant--from your pregnancy class, school community or neighborhood--and get a group rate for private instruction.