I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard “Can I do Pilates when I’m pregnant?” YES! And furthermore– YOU SHOULD!
1. Improved core strength, especially of your transverse abdominis, can help prevent a diastasis recti.
This condition is when the rectus abdominal muscle or “6-pack” muscle separates along the lines alba. In all pregnancies there is a thinning and widening of this fascia as the uterus pushes up against the abdominal wall- but in many women this separation widens greater than the normal 2 finger width and becomes problematic from both a function and aesthetic standpoint. The stronger the deepest layer of abdominal musculature is (the transverse abdominis), the more the rectus will be supported and less likely to separate. Pilates focuses on this deep abdominal layer and can help teach you how to engage your TA more effectively while minimizing the strain on your rectus abdominis muscles.
2. Decreased pain during pregnancy as related to SIJ and Low back dysfunction.
Pilates targets pelvic and low back strength and stability and can help minimize pain related to skeletal and muscle imbalances. As your baby grows, your belly grows. There’s no getting around it! This change creates an increased lumbar lordosis and this postural changes can lead to pain and dysfunction throughout the spine and pelvis if the lumbopelvic stabilizers aren’t doing their job.
3. Pelvic floor strength!
Bottom line- baby diapers are expensive enough… you don’t want to have to buy them for yourself as well! Your pelvic floor musculature supports the entire bottom of the abdominal cavity and as your uterus expands your pelvic floor muscles are asked to work harder and harder. Pilates not only strengthens these muscles for improved support and bladder control, pre and post delivery, but also improves the mind/body connection between you and these muscles. This comes into play during delivery because it will improve strength your “push” during delivery as well as allow you to fully “relax” these muscles to allow your baby to pass through the birth canal more easily.
There are so many more benefits to Pilates during and after pregnancy that I don’t mention here- improved breath control to combat your expanding belly pressing against your diaphragm, improved muscle tone pre and post delivery, a quicker return to full function and optimal body composition, stress relief… the list goes on. The bottom line is that you CAN and SHOULD do Pilates during and after your pregnancy. We are here to guide you through the entire pregnancy in both our class and private settings (if you do classes we encourage meeting with one of our instructors early on in your pregnancy and intermittently throughout so we can help educate you on modifications to keep you and the baby safe during classes as there are several considerations and modifications that you need to make!)
My most recent pre-natal client, who inspired this blog, did Pilates with me 2-3x per week throughout her entire pregnancy and just delivered a beautiful and healthy baby girl just one week after her last session with me. She only experienced decreased bladder control for 24 hours after her natural delivery and started a pelvic floor and transverse abdominis isometric strengthening program at home 4 days after delivery. She feels great, has no back pain and reports her friends and doctors were amazed at how easy her pregnancy was and how quickly she is recovering post delivery. After her doctor complimented her on her 3 push delivery she told me she just smiled and said “It’s the Pilates.”
Need I say more?
Stephanie Sprout DPT, PMA®-CPT