Bringing a child into the world takes preparation. Books to read, the nursery to prepare, stocking up on diapers, bottles and binky’s. But are you prepared for the labour and delivery itself? And did you know Pilates can be a great way to do that?
Pilates is a safe and effective workout for pregnant women. It’s a low impact, full body workout great pre and post natal. Here’s how it prepares your body for the big day.
Prep Your Core with Pilates for Delivery
During labour your core muscles fully engage to push your baby into the world. Strengthening them safely, without over stretching core muscles is vital.
As your belly grows, the abdominal wall is stretched with the help of the relaxin hormone. Relaxin pumps through your body during the second trimester, when your belly really starts to expand. It allows muscles, tendons and ligaments to relax and stretch giving more space to your growing baby.
Relaxin can also put women at risk of over stretching muscles, tendons and ligaments. Diastasis recti, separation of the abdominal wall muscles, should be kept in mind while performing core work. An experienced Pilates instructor at ProHealth Physical Therapy and Pilates can guide you through exercises that prepare your core for childbirth, without causing harm.
Build Your Upper Body for Pre & Post Natal Strength
As your bump grows, so do your breasts, to prepare for nursing. Shoulders may begin to round forward leading to back pain and altered posture. Back strengthening extension exercises counteract this. Some Pilates extension exercises stretch the abdominal wall and require laying on the stomach. While pregnant, we want to avoid these, rather focus on standing extension work that avoids stretching the core.
Once your baby arrives, you’ll bend over frequently to pick them up. This repeated motion wears on your back and shoulders. Doing plenty of extension work before then, makes those early days a bit easier.
As your child grows, continuing to strengthen your upper body makes cuddling and carrying your little one all the sweeter.
Strong Legs and Stable Hips
Strong legs bring strength and endurance during labor. Pushing during delivery, especially while lying down, requires leg strength. On the mat or apparatus, Pilates builds lean leg muscle while not over stretching or straining your hips.
Hip pain is common, especially in the 3rd trimester. Traditional squats and lungs may be uncomfortable and difficult while trying to maintain balance with your growing belly. Pilates lower body work can be done laying down, both on the mat and apparatus. This low impact work strengthens muscles, while alleviating pressure on the hips, legs and feet. Oh sweet relief!
Don’t Forget to Breathe!
We’ve all seen it in the movies, a very pregnant woman at the peak of delivery, breathing like she’s never breathed before. Movies don’t capture the totality of a baby entering the world, but the breathing? Yes, it’s very important.
Joseph Pilates said “Above all, learn how to breathe correctly”. When the delivery day comes, remember this. Trust your body. It was designed to do this. Trust the preparation you’ve done. Focus on your breath. Through every moment, inhale, exhale. Before you know it, your baby will be in your arms.