Pilates for Pregnancy

You know Pilates has reached mass popularity now that most people actually know how to pronounce it (puh-la-tees). Part of its popularity comes from principles that focus on posture and strength in a gentle workout format. What you might not know is that Pilates is a great workout during and after pregnancy.

More: Stay Fit During Pregnancy

Why Try Pilates?

  • Increases abdominal strength
  • Improves posture
  • Creates long and balanced muscle tone
  • Aids in relaxation and sleep
  • Increases energy
  • Reduces aches and pains that most people have from poor posture

Why Pilates is Great for Pregnancy

  • The increased abdominal strength supports the uterus and baby
  • Aids in childbirth by making pelvic floor muscles stronger
  • You are less likely to get diastesis recti (separation of abdominal wall) from pregnancy
  • Aids breathing in labor and reduces shortness of breath during pregnancy
  • Helps quickens postnatal recovery

What Is Pilates?

Joseph Pilates created this workout in 1920. Essentially, it combines tai chi and yoga with a huge focus on the body's core. Originally, Pilates consisted of 34 movements. Now, there is a lot of variation and additional exercises have been added.

More: Functional Fitness for New Moms

The best way to do Pilates is with a personal trainer because good form is important. If that's not possible, there are exercises you can do in class or even at home.

Here are some things to think about when practicing the art of Pilates:

Breathing: Believe it or not, this can be the hardest part of Pilates. Most people don't know how to breathe. Do your best to breathe naturally throughout the exercise. Most importantly, do not hold your breath as it can raise blood pressure in many of the movements.

Centering: This focuses on the rib cage, the spine and the pelvis. Most movements in Pilates involve centering. Addressing these muscles can be difficult as they are very deep, unlike your superficial muscles such as a bicep or tricep. Try to think of these muscles as a corset that surrounds your spine. As you draw it in, you support your spine and your posture.

Control: Pilates is a slow and controlled workout. For this reason it is a great workout to do during pregnancy. If you jerk or bounce, you're not doing it right. When you move quickly through a workout, you greatly increase your risk of injury. Slower movements are much harder to control but are also more effective.

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About the Author

Lisa Druxman

Lisa Druxman, M.A., the creator of Stroller Strides, is a nationally recognized speaker, author and highly regarded expert in the field of pre and postnatal fitness. Stroller Strides is a total fitness program for new moms that they can do with their babies. It includes power walking and intervals of body toning, using exercise tubing and the stroller. Taught by trained instructors, it's a great workout for any level of fitness.

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