Sometimes it is hard to find the balance between too much or too little exercise during pregnancy. While intense regimes like running and high impact exercise are clearly contraindicated while pregnant, not doing any exercise is also unhealthy. Pilates is an ideal “happy medium” and several studies have found many benefits of it during pregnancy.
For example, one study found just eight weeks of pilates twice a week during pregnancy resulted in “Significant improvements (p < 0.05) in blood pressure, hand grip strength, hamstring flexibility and spinal curvature, in addition to improvements during labour, decreasing the number of Caesareans and obstructed labour, episiotomies, analgesia and the weight of the new-borns were found at the end of the intervention.”
Another randomised controlled trial found pilates-assisted childbirth training significantly reduced the fear of childbirth (p < 0.05) for the intervention group who were “positively affected by the training, in terms of childbirth fear, mode of the birth, planned or unplanned caesarean birth, the Apgar score and body weight of the new-born, and problems in the development of the new-born, the first contact time with new-born, and the first-time breastfeeding (p < 0.05).”
A study looking at the effect of pilates on pain during the third trimester compared to standard pregnancy exercises found, “the reduction in the level of pain was found to be significantly greater in the group of pregnant women who completed the Pilates workout (p < 0.05).” The authors conclude: “The results of this study indicated that Pilates is an effective, healthy, and feasible method of reducing pain in pregnancy, and is therefore a beneficial alternative workout for the suppression of pain in the third trimester of pregnancy.”
I agree, I’ve had several clients participate in pilates classes right through their pregnancy. All found it extremely beneficial in terms of pain reduction, improved sleep, reduced oedema and feeling better overall about their bodies during the pregnancy.
Pilates is an ideal form of exercise to engage in before, during and after pregnancy. It is gentle yet challenging, relaxing and very effective. It will boost energy levels and release endorphins, which will increase your feeling of well-being. Deep abdominal breathing will not only relax the mother but will ensure adequate oxygen and nutrients are being delivered to baby.
One of the natural results of pregnancy is a shift in the centre of gravity as the expanding abdomen causes an increase in the curve of the spine. This can cause increased lower back discomfort and possibly increased tension in the neck and shoulders. Pilates focuses on balancing muscular activity and maintaining muscular endurance to help prevent injuries associated with these changes.