Pilates is without a doubt one of the most recommended forms of exercise for women who are pregnant. It can strengthen, lengthen and tone muscles safely, can improve circulation and so much more. With the ever growing popularity of Pilates group reformer classes, expectant mamas may be wondering if they can still go and if so, what changes need to be made. Yes you can absolutely still get your Pilates fix, but you need to practice with caution. Here are 5 modifications you need to make for your prenatal Pilates workout.
These changes are recommended from about 18 weeks and on. As usual, make sure to talk to your doctor before doing any form of exercise.
1. Use a wedge if on back. When you lie on your back, the weight of the uterus puts a fair amount of undue pressure on your organs, which is not only uncomfortable, but also not the best for your body and circulation. Most Pilates studios have a pregnancy wedge to place on your reformer so you aren’t flat on your back! This will solve the circulation problem and make it way easier to get on and off your reformer. (Only use the wedge when on your back; lose it for side lying work).
2. Crunch-less Core Work. Pilates is famous for it’s killer ab work, and pregnant mammas need to keep a strong core for supporting the growing bump in the front, for labor and for recovery. However, big crunching and twisting movements are not recommended. If the class you are attending does this kind of movement, just hold the head and chest up and move only the lower body portion. This will challenge and strengthen the transverse abs, or the deepest layer.
3. Stay seated for kneeling arm work if balance feels a bit compromised. Balance gets thrown off so easily when pregnant because we have this ever-changing and growing weight at the front of our body! Much of the arm work in Pilates is upright on the knees. If your balance feels a bit wonky, opt to simply sit down on your feet instead. You will still get the same great work for your upper body. Better to play it safe when we are caring for two.
4. No more stomach lying- stay seated upright for arm work. At 18 weeks pregnant and on, avoid lying on the stomach. Although it may not feel too uncomfortable at first, you want to avoid putting undue pressure on your sweet baby going forward as they grow (and you grow)! Instead, do the same exercise seated upright on the box. It’s the same idea. Imagine you are lying flat and open your chest to get that feeling of length.
5. Take breaks! This is sometimes hard for the competitive soul, or even to force ourselves to take a moment when this kind of workout is something we can normally do without breaks at all. When pregnant, the body needs much more water, so drink up! Stop at least twice during your class for a sip. Additionally, there is much more blood in your body so you can get winded more easily. Also the growing baby is taking up a lot of real estate in your body so your lungs are a bit more compressed. Take a break to catch your breath. Take a break to pee! It’s not that you are out of shape, it’s simply that your pregnant body is different. So listen to your body, it’s changing everyday!
Andrea is the owner and founder of Speir Pilates based out of Santa Monica, CA and online subscription site SPTV. Andrea has been teaching and refining her fitness method for the past ten years, with a specialization in pre and postnatal Pilates and fitness. She is the creator and star of SPTV Fit Mamma, an online subscription channel that is set to launch in June 2017. This innovative site will take expectant and new mammas through workouts that will make them strong, healthy, svelte and prepared for labor and/or recovery with her hand picked fitness props, and all from the comfort and accessibility of their own home. Andrea's mission is to help women keep their strong, fit, independent selves while at the same time embracing and loving the amazing changes happening within their bodies and in their lives.