Why should you do Pilates after pregnancy ? I have treated many women during and after pregnancy within my physiotherapy clinic. During your pregnancy changes happen to your body to allow your little baby to grow. Some of us will just bounce back to our original former glorious state, and others may need a bit of help to get our stomach muscles and pelvic floor muscles back up to speed.
Often if we have 2 or 3 pregnancies close to each other and we don’t get up to shape in-between our bodies can really feel the effects.
So what changes during pregnancy?
- As we get bigger from our bump our stomach muscles will be stretched to allow room. Our rectus abdominus which is our beloved six-pack has a sinewy attachment in the centre which allows the muscle to separate. This muscle is what is affected with the abdominal split or Rectus Diastasis.
- During pregnancy, we find that our pelvic floor is put under extra strain with all the weight, but more relevant is during labour our pelvic floor is stretched and sometimes may even have a tear or cut.
- Our posture is affected, even though research says differently. We become more rounded in our upper backs and more arched in our lower backs, our ribs get squashed and can get stiff.
- We move less generally, and other joints can get stiff such as your hips and knees.
- Because we move less and are heavier at night we can put extra pressure through the sides of our hips (gluteus medius) and then our hips can feel painful.
- We can get weaker if we have stopped any of our strength training.
- Relaxin, the hormone everyone talks about gets released into your body which allows more movements through your pelvis.
- And finally, we have labour which can sometimes put pressure on our pelvis and backs.
Most of us may feel the effects of some of these changes and some may not feel any at all (the blessed folk!). Personally, I found it really hard to exercise during pregnancy and therefore by the time I had even thought about exercise it was 18 months later! If you consider it only takes a few weeks to lose some of your fitness and strength then no wonder the journey back to fitness can be so hard.
Let’s not forget to add into the recipe a dash of tiredness and lack of any time……
Step one is starting some gentle exercise straight after pregnancy. This can just get you back on track with your stomach muscles and pelvic floor. This also allows you to feel confident about returning to other activities or it can be a way to get started on your exercise journey.
Post-natal Pilates focuses on all the above points. It works on gently getting you moving, slowly building your core and pelvic floor. It is great to get your posture back and get those mid backs moving as well as building strength around your pelvis.
The classes are gentle and therefore even if you are tired you won’t come away exhausted and spend two days recovering.
Make sure you have had your health check first, and we suggest 6 weeks for natural delivery and 12 weeks for C-section delivery.
Finally, it is really important to get an hour away from your baby and get used to having some time for your body to recover. Its normal to feel you can’t possibly do this but I recommend it will feel great afterwards!
By Jehan Yehan, Physiotherapist and Pilates Teacher in Kingston.