Pregnancy & Beyond; what an amazing, exciting and slightly scary time in a women’s life! Our bodies change, hormones run amok and many women find that they have aches and pains that they have never experienced before. And then after little bub comes into the world, so much has changed in our lives, and our bodies, that it is like we have to begin again – and this is where Pilates comes into its own! Pilates can be such a wonderful part of the pre & postnatal period – it can be a constant, something you just do for you and also something that keeps you stronger and healthier for the ride that is coming – parenthood!
So why exercise during pregnancy (especially when sometimes it’s the last thing you want to do!) and why do Pilates? During the pre & postnatal period, there are many musculoskeletal issues that can occur, and Pilates is a great way to help prevent, or at least lessen the effects of these on a women’s body. Pilates is safe for you and the baby and is a fabulous blend of strength, balance, flexibility and general fitness. With so much research coming out about the benefits of exercise throughout your pre & postpartum journey, Pilates has you covered.
An old friend (nay enemy) of mine, pelvic instability is a phrase that is often used to explain a myriad of presentations from the feeling of weakness around your pelvis, Sacro-iliac joint (SIJ) pain through to Pubic Pain. Basically, the hormone Relaxin that is released in your body to get you ready for birth, plays havoc with your ligaments, which become loser and more flexible allowing more movement throughout your joints. These joints, normally wouldn’t have any movement, making you prone to pelvic and lower back pain. Strengthening your abdominals and your glute muscles, which are basically the scaffolding holding it all together, will counter the laxity in the ligaments and therefore joints, to help stop extra movement and pressure that goes into these areas.
STRENGTHEN YOUR PELVIC FLOOR
Yep, that old chestnut! Some people believe that if you have a c-section you won’t put pressure on the pelvic floor muscles. Actually though, it is the weight of the baby, the fact you are carrying the little budda for 9 months and hormonal changes that can weaken this muscle. So, no matter whether you have a natural or c-section birth, your pelvic floor is still put under immense strain throughout the pre & postnatal period. Pilates as a practise has a huge focus on the pelvic floor muscle (pregnant or not) and can help strengthen this hammock of muscle that sits under the pelvis and supports your bladder and bowel. Through constant focus on strengthening weakened pelvic floor, and relaxing overused pelvic floor (yes, this can happen to) Pilates can assist in reducing incontinence that could develop after your pregnancy.
IMPROVE POSTURE & BALANCE
Due to the change in posture and where your weight is distributed (you are now front heavy!) you may feel more clumsy or unstable when pregnant. Pilates helps your balance by increasing your core & glute strength and also through working the postural muscles that can often get overlooked in other strength focused exercise.
Although the hormone Relaxin can loosen our ligaments too much, it sadly doesn’t have the same effect on our muscles! Holding extra weight, changes to our posture and new stresses in our life, can leave our muscles feeling tight and sore. As well as strength, Pilates focuses on the flexibility and range of motion that our body needs to stay supple throughout pregnancy and afterwards.
Taking some time for yourself during your pregnancy and having a place to go that understands what is happening to you and your body is important. Pilates gives you an opportunity to switch off from daily stresses. The mind body connection in Pilates is so important to the practise, it really does mean you have to move in the moment and focus on each part of the exercise to get the maximum benefit.
SPEED UP RECOVERY POST-PARTUM
Keeping up your strength and movement with Pilates throughout your pregnancy will pay dividends on the other side! Babies though gorgeous, are pretty hard work and having the tools and understanding of your body that Pilates gives you, will put you on a path to regain your strength, posture and flexibility post-partum much faster.
So, if you are pregnant, thinking of becoming pregnant or wanting to find your strength postpartum (however long ago you gave birth) we can’t wait to see you in class at Evolved!