I recently submitted my thoughts and experiences on practicing Pilates during my pregnancy on About.com and thought I should expand on this topic a bit more. So here is the 411 on getting started with Pregnancy Pilates…the who, what, when & where!
Who? Pilates is great for pregnant mamas who have already been doing Pilates before getting pregnant and also for the newbies who are looking to start Pilates in the beginning of pregnancy. Yes, you can start after getting pregnant, you just have to stick to more beginner level, modified exercises. I highly recommend working with a professional, Certified Pilates instructor who has experience working with pregnant clients. Taking a Pilates class at a local gym in a large group or with a dvd at home is NOT recommended, especially to those who have never before practiced Pilates!!! Besides, its a lot of fun to meet other pregnant mamas…we need each for support and encouragement during those 9 long months!!
What? Personally, I did a lot of Pilates during my pregnancy as I went through my certification starting @ 6 weeks and finished in my 3rd trimester! I took classes, practiced with classmates and worked on ALL equipment. During the 2nd & 3rd trimester, I did mat & reformer a lot less and I was doing more on tower, chair & using props – especially physioball & small barrel. Many exercises and/or positions are contraindicated during pregnancy, meaning not recommended. Here is a list broken down by trimester:
- 1st trimester – avoid inversions, holding your breath, over-stretching
- 2nd & 3rd trimester – everything from 1st trimester PLUS do no lay on your back for more the a few minutes at a time, do not lie on your belly! Typically most classical exercises will be modified during these stages
A few tips: I modified pulling straps & t-press: sitting up facing the back of the reformer. Shoulder extension so important to keep posture in check! I avoided inverted (body is upside down) exercises as they are contraindicated. (ex. short spine, corkscrew, etc.)
When & How often? I did Pilates before my pregnancy, which is why I was able to do it so frequently during my pregnancy. I was able to do most exercises on all equipment & mat during my 1st trimester, then as my belly “popped”, lying face down (prone) was out and I stopped a lot of exercises involving too much trunk/spinal flexion. During my 2nd & 3rd trimesters, I still used all equipment but I omitted many contraindicated exercises and modified a lot!! The best advice here is to do what feels good and ALWAYS listen to your body. If something hurts or feels uncomfortable, DO NOT do it! Also, if you’re feeling tired or not up to a long workout, just do a few exercises.
A few tips: You can still do exercises lying on your back; take breaks by rolling to your side. Diaphragmatic breathing, pelvic tilts, & kegels are your friend! Sciatica? Sidekick series!
Where? Many studios offer pre-natal classes that are smaller in size and safe and affective for all stages of pregnancy. I would start there. Pregnancy Pilates DVDs are clearly less expensive and more convenient, but I would ONLY do these if you already have Pilates experience.
Advice from LongLeanMama, a Pilates instructor who’s been there…
- I can’t say it enough…Always listen to your body!! Not all pregnant woman are alike.
- I did a lot of careful experimentation throughout my pregnancy. Modification guidelines are great but they are just that, guidelines. Sometimes you might find that you can do a little more or a little less than recommended. Again, listen to your body and be extra careful…there’s a little one counting on your care!
- Exercise during your pregnancy is meant to help you feel good and give you increased energy…don’t push it too much!
Enjoy and feel free to connect with me if you have any questions!