Prenatal & Postpartum Pilates
Deciding how to stay in shape for an impending pregnancy or how to get back in shape postpartum? Pilates coupled with a cardiovascular activity is an ideal way to reach your goals.
The body goes through incredible, exciting, and unfamiliar changes with pregnancy. While you may feel "out of control" with the physical changes during or after pregnancy, there is a safe and effective approach to fitness through Pilates. The dramatic influence of water weight, baby weight, maternal fat stores, and increased blood volume can make any pregnant woman feel bloated, tired, and just not like yourself. As the baby demands attention from all systems in the body, it is easy to feel as if your body is not your own.
The key to a successful pregnancy and postpartum recovery is balance--both mental and physical. While it may seem counter-intuitive, it is important to maintain some measure of core strength to support your growing belly. One of the most common complaints during pregnancy is back pain. By creating a natural support for the belly with strong core muscles, pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum recovery can be made easier and back pain can be significantly reduced.
First and foremost, any pregnant woman must get a doctor's consent before embarking on any new exercise program. It is usually recommended that the heart rate never be higher than 140 bpm for any longer than 15 minutes, and that past the first trimester the pregnant woman not lay on her back for longer than 15 minutes. There are further indications that are specific to the individual level of fitness and specific conditions of pregnancy.
Pilates is customized to individual needs and goals. However, during pregnancy you cannot expect to change your body--become thinner, or look leaner. The goals of pregnancy Pilates are to keep the core strong to support the back, hips, and belly and to help during childbirth. As a bonus, many Pilates mommies find that postpartum recovery is faster because of the existing core strength and muscle awareness. It is important that by month 6 of pregnancy, muscles are not over-stretched, as the introduction of the hormonal relaxant can give a false sense of flexibility. By six months, pregnant Pilates focuses on centering, balance, core strength, and keeping the chest and shoulders open.
As the due date approaches and it becomes more difficult to access the core, specific exercises are given to help find those muscles. Aches, pains and discomforts are addressed and a mini home exercise plan may be given. After having baby, it is important to listen to your doctor's recommendations for when a fitness program can be resumed-- every body is different and unique in it's recovery. Pilates moms find that they get back into shape faster, have fewer physical complaints during and after pregnancy, and have easier deliveries!
Pilates can be a fast, safe and effective way to get in shape postpartum. The Primary goal is to help the body reconnect to the walls of abdominal muscles that were stretched throughout pregnancy and train these muscles to work by pulling in, not pushing out. One of the biggest mistakes in Pilates is improper training where the student is taught to use the core by pushing muscles outwards and in fact the muscles will develop this way creating a strong and hard pot belly. This is an especially easy mistake to make postpartum as everything the body HAD BEEN preparing to do for 9 months involved expansion and pushing!
After the body connects to the core and communication is established, the postpartum Pilates program is customized to target those specific areas needing and wanting tone, strength, and stretch. Coupled with cardiovascular activity like walking, swimming, or biking, Pilates as we teach it at reFORM gives the body weight resistance training, some cardiovascular training, isometric training, and core strength training making the combination a great jump for your metabolism.
Think of your postpartum body as a blank canvas-we can help you find long lean muscles and core strength that will be useful for picking up, holding, and nursing your rapidly growing baby. Some Pilates moms find that their postpartum body is in better shape than their body before baby.