Pilates For Pregnancy - The Perfect Exercise Methodby Katlyn Joy | November 27, 2007 12:00 AM
Being fit while pregnant has multi-fold benefits for both mother and child. Exercise keeps your calories burning, and gaining too much weight causes a number of problems for moms and babies, setting both up for an increased risk of obesity later, heightens the chances of gestational diabetes, and can cause birth difficulties including the need for a c-section.
Staying fit can help you minimize or keep certain troublesome pregnancy symptoms at bay, such as back pain, cramping and fatigue. You will be less likely to suffer from depression as well. Exercising can help you feel better about how you look, which is a mood booster. Exercise also releases those feel good endorphins into your system.
Pilates exercise in particular has a load of benefits for mothers-to-be. Pilates focuses a great deal on the core muscles: your abdomen and back in particular. Those are areas that are most affected in pregnancy, and by keeping fit through pregnancy with Pilates, you are more likely to have a strong core and be better prepared for the demands of later pregnancy. As your baby grows, your center of gravity is thrown off, and often so are your posture and balance. Pilates helps you keep strong and more able to handle those challenges.
The stretching and toning exercises of Pilates are also good for pregnant women to help them maintain their ability to reach, something you'll appreciate as you strain to tie your shoes over a blossoming belly. If you are more flexible and toned, you will better withstand the rigors of even an extended and exhausting labor.
The other big boon to pregnant women who do Pilates regularly is that after birth, bouncing back into shape is a bit easier since you've kept your core in shape.
When Pilates May Not Be a Good Idea
- If you have a history of multiple miscarriages.
- If you are pregnant with twins or more.
- If you have bleeding when exercising, or particularly if bleeding increases with activity.
- If you have blurred vision, headaches or swelling on the ribcage.
- If you have hypertension.
- If you have problems with fevers frequently in pregnancy.
- If you feel like you injured yourself while doing the exercises.
Doing Pilates Safely During Pregnancy
Before you begin any workout, check it out with your doctor first. Make certain your doctor understands Pilates type workouts. Limit exercises where you are on your back on the floor to five minutes or less. The reason is supine hypotensive syndrome, where normal circulation of the blood back to the heart is impeded by the weight of the baby on the vena cava. This may result in less oxygen in your blood and therefore less oxygen getting to baby. Besides limiting the time on your back to five minutes, should you ever feel dizzy, immediately roll onto your left side until symptoms subside.
When you are on your back, never lift both legs in the air at the same time, unless you are on a piece of Pilates equipment called the C-Shaper.
It's also quite important that you understand the proper way to perform the exercises and are careful in how you position your body. Misunderstanding how you are to align yourself can lead to injury. Remember in pregnancy your muscles and joints are extra loose due to the hormone, relaxin, and it's easy to overextend your joints or strain your muscles.
- Drop stretches of the abdomen after the 12 week of pregnancy.
- Should a pose or exercise cause heartburn, avoid it.
- Never hold your breath during exercise.
- Be moderate in all your movements, in terms of how far you push your stretch and how many repetitions you perform. You will need to gradually lessen and modify your workout as your pregnancy progresses.
- Realize as you get further into your pregnancy, your balance will be more greatly affected and your tendency to get light-headed increases.
- Watch your posture with each movement.
- Consider altering the length of each exercise session, and possibly work out fewer days a week. For instance, if you were working out every day, aim for every other day later in pregnancy.
If something doesn't feel right, if you become extremely fatigued, overheated or faint, stop immediately.
Updated: May 5, 2014
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