Congratulations on your Pregnancy!
Exciting times await. Crazy times, but very, very exciting times!
Exercise for pregnant ladies can go in many different ways. For some, it's a great excuse to relax and put their feet up. Others may not feel physically up to exercising, be scared to exercise, or have been given strict instructions not to exercise by their Medical team. On the other extreme, there are fitness fanatic Mums keen to maintain their fitness and want to push themselves as much as is safe to do so. I myself have found myself in all of these camps at some point during my pregnancies! Squats at the top of St Catherine’s Hill at 41 weeks being the perfect example.
Like all things in life, getting the right balance is the best approach to exercise during pregnancy. Research shows regular exercise has a positive psychological impact on expectant Mothers and poses no risk to both the birth outcome or foetus itself (J. Rankin 2002). It is believed to help reduce stress for the Mother, a factor found to be linked to allergies, asthma and the baby’s immune system (Wright R. 2008). Moreover, babies of Mummies who exercised are believed to be more alert and easy to care for....
Why do Pilates when you’re pregnant?
Throughout pregnancy, your body undertakes a phenomenal amount of physical, and hormonal changes (and the rest), which impact significantly upon how you move, how you carry yourself and how you feel. During pregnancy, the Mum-to-be’s body becomes more mobile thanks to the high levels of the hormone progesterone which loosens the ligaments and joints around the body. Whilst this laxity (ligamentous laxity) is absolutely critical to support the healthy growth of the uterus housing the baby, it does simultaneously result in pregnant ladies being more prone to injury in other parts of their body – strains and sprains of the knee and ankle, for example. This is why it’s so vital that during pregnancy, movement is very considered and controlled with an emphasis placed on strengthening, not (over) stretching. Put simply, Pilates will help to stabilise the bits which move too much and mobilise the bits which are a little bit stiff.
Now we're on the subject of strengthening - we'll do a lot of work on making your body stronger in preparation for your new baby. We'll work on strong arms for carrying babies (they get surprisingly heavy after a while), strong and stable spine positions for pushing prams up Winchesters hills, controlled rotational work for putting babies car seats in and out of their car seat, sequential spinal movement for rolling down to pick your baby out their moses basket/cot. I'll teach you how best to get in and out of bed, should you need to have a caesarian (without the risk of doming). Thats the beauty of Pilates - it's all functional movement which you'll be doing each and every day.
Pilates is all about posture, with the integrity of the spine being at the heart of every single movement. Posture is significantly affected during pregnancy –the centre of gravity changes with a growing bump and is often compensated by either leaning back or tilting the bump forwards – both of which have negative implications for the spine. Growing breasts also encourage the shoulders to round forwards, a problem often exacerbated after birth during breastfeeding. Pilates will help you to become more mindful of how your new pregnant body is best aligned; how you can adopt and indeed stay in your newly found best neutral position whilst conducting everyday activities – sitting, walking, sleeping. Pilates will therefore help your body to function optimally, avoid lower back pain and allow a more lengthened position for you (and your baby) to move more comfortable/freely. This in itself may contribute to better birth presentation (optimum foetal positioning). We’ll practice a variety of techniques and positions in class to psyche you up for labour – positions which help to getd the baby into the best angle/best birthing position (4 point kneeling etc).
Pilates is excellent at helping you to stay in touch with your pelvic floor throughout pregnancy – something you’ll be grateful for afterbirth! I’ve got a variety of techniques, images and exercise for you to practice every week.
Ante-natal Pilates is excellent at helping you to relax, unwind make time to connect with your baby. A time to connect the mind with the body and relieve unnecessary anxiety, tension or fears. As part of both the relaxation and birth preparation process, we’ll work on the importance of the breath. We’’ll and breathe deeply, diaphramatically. We’ll play around with the importance of breath and how this impacts on the labour process itself; how you can use your breath in conjunction with contractions to soothe and distract.
Finally, one of the nicest things about joining an antenatal Pilates class is that you’ll meet a lovely network of other Mum’s (families)-to-be, people who are in the same boat, who most probably share the same hopes and fears as you and whose counting down the days like you…
Who can come/from what stage
If you are one of my regular clients who has been practicing with me for a while, you are generally welcome to continue in the very early stages; so long as you have received medical clearance from a professional. This is so I'll know the way you move and be able to spot any changes in your movements as a result of your pregnancy.
Currently I only offer 1:1's at my home in central Winchester, however Antenatal classes could be offered during the day if numbers permit...
What moves we'll do
Pilates during pregnancy is quite different from regular Pilates, but we do our best to mix it up, and still ensure everywhere gets mobilised (and stabilised)
Lots of 4 point kneeling - preparing you for a great birthing position. Strengthening arms, mobilising the spine in both extension and flexion.
Sitting (chair or in different positions in the mat) - lots of work to rotate and laterally flex the spine. Perfect practice for getting your baby into seats - car seats, prams
Standing - looking at your new centre of gravity, your new posture. Squats - lots of them - another great birthing position. Strong legs are needed as a Mummy especially when your baby starts to sit up on the floor/crawl - you'll be up and down a lot! Also an excellent position to practice some spinal extension, reversing the forward pulling feeling of heavy a heavy bump (and boobs)!
Side Lying - to strengthen legs and get lots of movement in the hips. As above, with a new baby, legs will suddenly be used an awful lot!
Sliding down walls - a great and safe way of getting feedback and balance, in the absence of a mat
We use balls - they challenge balance and proprioception, thus helping us to stabilise deep internal muscle
We'll do lots of work on the pelvic floor
Lots of ankle/foot work - to keep arches lifted and pools of blood from forming.
Note, we don't lie with our backs on the mat (semi supine) as there is a risk of the weight of the baby pressing heavily onto the vena cava - (the largest vein in the trunk) due to risk of blood flow to the heart being restricted.
As above, please ensure you have medical clearance and approval from your Midwife, GP at all times. Please ensure that you keep me up to date should you have any minor niggles or pains or other conditions such as Pelvic Girdle Pain, Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction, Sacroiliac pain, wrist, ankle or knee problems.