Pilates and the Third Trimester

Pilates has been voted by many of the top publications as the best way to shape up for pregnancy before, during and after. As with any exercise program it is always best to check with your physician before starting a new one.
We receive hundreds of inquiries about Pilates exercises and modifications for the Third Trimester. img-pre-natalHere are some of the Do’s and Don’ts:

1. Don’t lie on your back – Most people find this uncomfortable and in general try to avoid doing exercises where you are flat on your back. Create a ramp of pillows or mats to lift you up to a 45 degree angle.
2. Don’t put your feet up over your head unless they are propped up by pillows.
3. Avoid all crunch type motions.
4. Move slowly and controlled through all exercises. Even though side kick series can be done a bit faster, you want to slow down and focus on keep your hips/belly stable.
5. Key areas to focus on: Arms and Mid-back to keep you strong and standing tall! Hips/Outer Thighs to help with the delivery.
6. Areas to Avoid Focusing on: Inner Thighs, Abs…These 2 areas are overstretched and prone to over-stretching, so be careful.
7. Give yourself a few weeks of little to no exercise before your due date. You can still go for walks…and do gentle movement, but now’s the time to go inward, find ways to relax, calm your nerves, and prepare emotionally/mentally for your those first crazy months of your baby’s life.

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Pilates…Before the Baby Comes!

Once baby comes those workout sessions will be harder to keep up, all your energy will be focused on the little one. Now is the time to give to yourself and to prepare your body & mind for the remarkable days ahead. Newborns take energy so it is important that you have the physical and mental strength necessary to be fully engaged with your newly born child.

Most new mothers have no idea just how much time it takes to care for their little one. You may think you’ll have time to exercise, maybe even have time for your hobby, after all you’ll have lots of time while your little one is sleeping, right? Not so! Some days you’ll be lucky to even get a shower in! It is important that you take the time now to get your body strong and your energy balanced for the days ahead when your newborn’s needs come first.

Fit First Pilates is a great way to stay active and prepare your body for childbirth. It is well known that women who exercise during pregnancy have shorter labors, fewer complications and higher APGAR scores (a test given at birth to the newborn to measure how well it is doing through appearance, pulse, grimace, activity and respiration).

Fit First Pilates will help you to strengthen your core, lower back and more importantly your Pelvic Floor. The Pelvic Floor is a group of muscles, tissues and ligaments that support and protect the bladder, urethra, uterus, vagina and rectum during pregnancy and birth. It is the foundation of your core and vitally important to have a strong Pelvic Floor during childbirth. There are many Fit First Pilates exercises that target strengthening the pelvic floor, for example the knee fold is a low-impact exercise that gently tones your pelvic floor muscles.

In addition to strengthening your core, Fit First Pilates will help you with your balance. As your baby grows your center of gravity will change and you may experience ‘being off balance’. Your hormonal changes cause increased flexibility in the joints and muscles and you are more likely to strain muscles, trip or fall. Fit First Pilates can help you stay safe by improving your balance and posture through targeted exercises.

Maybe the best way Fit First Pilates can help you prepare for labor and birth is through the focused breath work and mind-body connection that is essential to exercise. Breathing plays a big role in labor as it helps you to focus and release the natural instinct to tighten your muscles, keeping you more relaxed.

A note of caution:

It is extremely important that you first check with your doctor and/or midwife before beginning any exercise routine. Also you will want to work with a trained instructor, at least to begin with. Just as you wouldn’t start prenatal care without a doctor or midwife, or a nutrition program without a nutritionist you shouldn’t start Pilates without the guidance of trained Pilates instructor.  Even if you are experienced in Pilates you need to check with your doctor/midwife before you begin, and work with an instructor to ensure you are exercising safely.

Fit First Pilates teaches the exercise principles of centering, the flow of breath, mind-body control and relaxation, all of which are helpful skills you can bring to your labor & delivery and to the care of your newborn.

For more information on Fit First Pilates during pregnancy, visit Fit First Pilates