If you were wondering how to stay active during pregnancy, we have tackled the benefits of Pilates while expecting before here on Future Fit Training. Pilates is not only safe for pregnant women, but it also provides several advantages, especially when it’s time to welcome your little one into the world.
Here are some ways Pilates can help ease the labour process:
The main reason Pilates is highly recommended for pregnant women is its focus on building core strength. Many of the exercises in Pilates are made to strengthen the muscles in the abdomen, particularly the transverse abdominis, and in the pelvic floor. Clementine Daily states that these deep core muscles are responsible for the pushing action required during labour, which is why it’s important to learn how to engage them. The more in touch you are with your core muscles, the more strength you can tap into when it really matters. By doing this it will also add more ease and comfort to the delivery. Finding stability on a yoga block or a physio ball as well as doing Pilates exercises like the butterfly stretch are key to activating these important muscles.
Another term that the founder of the system gave Pilates is contrology. As a physical activity, Pilates has some similarities to yoga in that they are both low impact, low intensity exercises that require a lot of restraint in movement. Therefore, Pilates is a great way to practice mindfulness, which you need to access during childbirth. A lack of concentration is common among pregnant women, considering all the hormonal changes. In this regard, Pilates can improve awareness and help a woman focus on the labour itself.
One reason why Pilates is a great practice of concentration is how it teaches you to control your breath. The technique, as well as its benefits, can be likened to Lamaze breathing. Very Well Family explains that breathing exercises are effective in relieving labour pains because of simple distraction. Instead of being overwhelmed by the sensations, a woman can redirect her attention to her inhalations and exhalations to be able to have a more relaxed childbirth.
Even though it may not be as intense as sprinting or lifting weights, Pilates is still a great way to build energy. It promotes blood circulation and improves lung capacity, which can increase the efficiency in your body’s production of energy.
When choosing activities to boost energy levels, it's important to do your research beforehand, as fitness programs are never a one-size-fits-all ordeal. For instance, tennis star Serena Williams previously shared her third trimester workout, which involved medicine balls and sleds. Professor Jim Pivarnik advised against following the tennis superstar’s routine, especially if you’re not used to an intense workout. He also highlights that a modified version of Pilates is one of the exercises recommended for the average woman. However, Serena Williams is no average woman. She is an elite athlete with 23 Grand Slam titles to her name and is one of the highest paid tennis players in the world. She is definitely no ordinary woman. Therefore, what works for Serena Williams might not be what’s best for other pregnant women.
Therefore, it’s best to seek expert advice from an obstetrician before resuming or attempting any intense physical activity. Until you get their approval, Pilates is definitely a safe practice that can help you through your pregnancy and labour.
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