Strengthening your pelvic floor, core and lower back while pregnant is essential – and Pilates is a great solution not only during pregnancy, but post-birth too. Pilates workouts strengthen your core muscles with an emphasis on abdominal muscles, the lower back and the muscles of the pelvic floor. All these muscles are important in pregnancy because of the changes to your body as your baby grows.
We caught up with SERENA from Options Pilates Studio to hear why Pilates is so powerful for pregnant women and new mums. Here are her three tips.
Tip 1: Support your lower back
The lower back works together with the abdominals and obliques to keep the spine in a neutral position. As your baby grows, the pressure on your lower back is relieved when the abdominal muscles are strong enough to keep your spine in a neutral position.
Tip 2: Strengthen your pelvic floor
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles in your pelvis that functions as the foundation for your whole core. The pelvic floor muscles are very important during childbirth, and if these muscles are well-conditioned through Pilates training you’ll have greater control during labour and faster recovery after birth.
Tip 3: Join a prenatal Pilates class
Prenatal Pilates is much more gentle than regular Pilates. Many of the normal exercises are too difficult to perform when your balance is affected by the changes in your body. We modify a lot of exercises by using special equipment to make them suitable for the changing ability of your core muscles as they stretch during pregnancy.
There are different requirements during different trimesters. For example, the baby is most sensitive during the first trimester. So, we don’t encourage clients who haven’t worked out before to start any exercise until around the tenth to twelfth week of pregnancy. (Ideally, you would start Pilates classes before you become pregnant, as this makes it easier to continue classes once you become pregnant.) We encourage pregnant ladies to take plenty of water breaks and short breaks during class. And, of course, we are more lenient about missed or forgotten classes during pregnancy!
The instructors at Options are specifically trained to teach Pilates to pregnant women, and qualified to know what is suitable. For example, they know about exercises and positions to avoid, including those that involve lying flat on your back. We are a Pilates-only studio in Hong Kong with the most number of regular prenatal group classes.
See more in our Mums & Babies section
This article first appeared in the August/September 2019 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.