Pilates is a very gentle exercise recommended during pregnancy to relieve minor aches and pains, offer relaxation, and increase flexibility in preparation for childbirth. Practice until the last trimester if you like fitness.
Prenatal Vs Classical Pilates
The basis is the same: Both methods aim to strengthen the internal musculature. The physical development that classical pilates has been creating for 15 years allows the joints to remain flexible, keeps the body fit, and helps release the tensions of everyday life. The difference between prenatal and classical pilates is that the teachers of the first one use the principles of original pilates combined with their knowledge of pregnancy: i.e. finding positions to relax the outer abdominal muscles for the uterine growth, to help the perineal flexibility, to soften the back and stabilize the pelvis to better carry the baby afterward, etc.
The objective of a prenatal pilates session differs from the one of classical pilates: the emphasis is now on the well-being of the mother-to-be and her baby, not just focusing on fitness (the mother will have plenty of time to continue her personal challenges after childbirth). The exercise is clearly more gentle but equally beneficial for the woman, with an emphasis on relaxation through breathing and stretching. During pregnancy, the instructor focuses on the feelings of the mother each week.
How does a session work?
A prenatal pilates session follows these steps:
1. It begins with a gentle, relaxing warm-up in which the pregnant acquires awareness of her body – particularly the role of her torso (perineum and transverse abdominis) – lets herself feel free and focuses on her breathing.
2. The main session is a sequence of 5 to 10 pilates postures adapted to the morphology of the woman’s body, such as:
- the bridge: lying on her back with a slight inclination, legs bent, parallel and open, lift the vertebrae one by one at about 20 cm from the ground, inhale and exhale.
- the long back: on the table pose, she stretches her head forward, with her back straight, and moves her pelvis upwards until she forms a curve.
- the fetal position: she sits on her heels, knees slightly apart, bends forward, and goes as far as possible, concentrating on her breathing.
The majority of pilates positions can often be done on the table pose or by sitting down, some others can be done with Pilates equipment, such as a large ball to relax the muscles of the pelvis, back, perineum, or an inclined plane (a large pillow, for example). Due to the weight of the abdomen, it is best to avoid lying on your back as it can even impede blood circulation. Depending on which month your pregnancy is, it is possible to do some stretching (only in the first and second trimester).
3. For the end, a short moment of relaxation will allow her to eliminate all tensions.
Are there any contraindications for prenatal pilates?
Since the exercises are gentle, prenatal pilates is suitable for most pregnant women from the first month of pregnancy to the last. However, it is also best to seek the advice of your doctor before any physical activity, especially if you have problems related to high blood pressure or diabetes or in cases of twin pregnancy. In general, it is important to listen to your body, not to push or rush it: if you feel tired or have pain, dizziness, or nausea during the session, it is imperative to talk to your doctor or gynecologist. Only he or she can decide if you can continue prenatal pilates.
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