Pregnancy is a time of dramatic change for every woman – your body will go through some subtle shifts, along with some major physical changes. At Life Ready Studio, we are specialists in helping our pregnant and postpartum clients navigate this emotional time of flux. Before trying Pilates, we always recommend you first carefully discuss with your doctor what is suitable for you, both during pregnancy and after you give birth. If they’re happy for you to start exercising, or to continue exercising, we’ll work with you to develop a plan that supports what your body and mind need from Pilates during this special time.
Pilates is an amazing tool if you’re trying to get pregnant, you are pregnant or postpartum. There is a growing body of research that discusses the positive effects of Pilates for both you and your baby’s long-term health. We’re here to walk you give you support.
Relaxin is a hormone that is released during pregnancy, it causes the ligaments (that connect your bones) to become more flexible. This can make you more prone to pelvic pain and lower back pain. Strengthening your muscles with Pilates can better support your skeletal structure, this means you’ll have good movement patterns, and your strong muscles will help take the pressure off your joints. In particular, having a strong core is really important to support your pelvis, lower back and core muscles when holding the weight of your baby. We also focus on building strength in your legs and glutes (muscles in your bum) to help support the spine and general posture. When it’s strong and working correctly, it can support your pelvis and help minimise pain in your sacroiliac joint.
When you’re pregnant or recovering from having your baby, your muscles are likely to be sore. The pressure on your body from the baby, and post-birth, when picking up your baby and lifting or twisting, on top of your usual day to day movements may mean you feel pain in your lower back. Working on muscle groups that support a strong and stable posture, while you improve your range of motion, can reduce the pain you might be feeling with functional day to day movements.
Learning to control your breathing is not only beneficial for labour, but breathwork can help you on a deeper level, the breath can help you move from the sympathetic nervous system and work more with your parasympathetic nervous system. This shift means you’ll move into a more relaxed state of being. Our bodies are controlled by our breath – when you aren’t breathing properly, or you’re taking shallow breaths, your muscles may contract and your body might feel like it may be about to be attacked. This stiffness and rigidity can focus in one area, like your upper back, as you work to compensate for your baby’s weight in your abdominal area.
The weight of your baby on your body is supported by the strong structure of your pelvic floor muscles. The baby may be pushing more on your bladder or bowel and cause incontinence (before, during or after your pregnancy). Developing a strong pelvic floor with Pilates can help reduce this risk. The pelvic floor is crucial in keeping your pelvis in the correct position for day-to-day functional movements too.
The small person growing inside you may make you feel out of balance, clumsy, not in control and off-kilter. Pilates can help you improve your balance by working those stabiliser muscles. As you work to stabilise your body, your brain is learning pathways of how to correct yourself when you’re off balance. Day to day, if you become off-balance, your pilates practise will kick in and your brain will remember the pathways of how to quickly correct the muscles with your environment. If you are not used to the changing weight of your body against gravity, even movements you’re used to can suddenly feel unbalancing, like twisting or tiptoeing.
Day To Day Movements
As the baby grows, your body is becoming a different shape, you gently will relearn how to move as a bigger shaped person. Pilates teaches the four points to support you – this can both reduce the load on your pelvis and lower back and reduce your risk of injury. We work with you to reduce the strain on your muscles and joints. Pilates classes include building strength with similar moves to daily movements, which can lead to back injuries, like reaching for something, getting up and down from the floor or a chair and getting out of bed. Pilates has all the functional movements you need to continue to live your life safely and normally.
It is normal and beautiful to gain weight during pregnancy. That being said, sometimes excessive weight gain can be a high-risk factor in pregnancy. Doing regular, low impact and gentle exercise can help control your weight gain throughout your pregnancy and be an easy low-impact exercise for post-partum bodies looking to move in nourishing and pain-free ways. The goal isn’t to get out of breath and be dripping in sweat, but to move in a gentle and controlled way – your muscles effectively engaged so they are working and burning calories.
Sometimes the changes you’re going through physically, as well as with your relationships, how you see yourself and the hormone changes – can all feel a little overwhelming (or very overwhelming!). Taking time for yourself during your pregnancy is important. Pilates classes give you a stress-free environment to just be with your body and breathe, connect your mind and body and tune in to how you’re really feeling. We aim to make classes at Life Ready Studio a safe positive space – sometimes emotions come up and that’s absolutely fine and normal. Listening to how you feel when you consciously move your body is important. Without realising it we hold tension, emotions and feelings in our bodies which is reflected in the way we carry ourselves. Pilates is your opportunity to reset, rinse and experience these emotions and feelings in a healthy and supportive environment.
If you’re pregnant or have recently given birth, we would love to support you on your wellness journey. Please get in touch to organise an Intro pack or one on one appointment with us.