If you hadn’t noticed already, Complete Pilates love to talk about the benefits of Pilates for pregnant women.

And there is good reason for this: CP know just how effective this form of exercise can be for supporting expectant mums.

How do we know it works? Well, aside from these scientific studies, we’ve seen many of our clients enjoy a more positive pregnancy (and recover more quickly post-partum) because of their sessions with us.

You don’t just need to take our word for it though.

Because below, you can find out about the numerous benefits of Pilates during pregnancy directly from new mum, Pilates teacher and fitness professional Lucy Chadd. Here she shares her experience with us.

Pilates during pregnancy

Lucy: I wanted to take the time to talk about my experience of pregnancy and how Pilates helped me and my body through it.

As a Pilates instructor at Complete Pilates and a PT specialising in training pre- and postnatal women, you could say I was starting in a pretty good place.

However, this was also my first pregnancy and, while I have seen many mums through their pregnancies, going through it yourself is a totally different ball game.

This is why I wanted to share my experience: to help you understand just a couple of things that can happen to your body and how Pilates during pregnancy can help you through these changes.

I also think it’s important to note that, although I knew what I needed to do in terms of exercises and what bodily changes were going to occur, there were a number of occasions when I called upon my fellow instructors at Complete Pilates for help and to spot my form.

After all, nobody can fully see what’s happening within their own body. Plus, I don’t think there should be any shame in asking for help from other professionals – even if you already work with pre/postnatal women, like I do.

Pilates during pregnancy - Smiling pregnant woman stretching her leg on reformer machine while Pilates trainer is assisting her.

My first trimester

The first trimester for me was exhausting. My hormones were in a flurry, and juggling work, a social life (ish) and body changes proved very tough. On top of this, I also had to get my head around the fact that I was growing a human and my life was about to change forever!

Having said that, I was pretty lucky as it goes. I experienced morning sickness in the evenings (!) after long days. But, on the whole, I wasn’t struck down as badly as many other mums-to-be are.

It meant I was able to keep up with my Pilates during my pregnancy. This enabled me to make the most of this time and prepare my body for what I was about to put it through.

The later stages of pregnancy

After my first trimester, I knew that there would be certain Pilates exercises that I would be unable to do. So, I made sure to use this time to really focus on my spinal mobility and deep abdominal strength.

With only a few months of my independence left, I also felt like a bit of self-love and me time was crucial to my emotional state – Pilates really helped me achieve this.

The science bit

There are two major physical changes to mention that happen during pregnancy. Knowing about these things will hopefully help you understand a little better what’s happening to your body:

  1. Relaxin – a hormone called relaxin in released, this hormone is known to make your ligaments looser all in preparation for labour.

What to do:

With this in mind, you must be careful when taking yourself to your end ranges and perhaps think about reducing your range to keep safe.

2. Diastasis Recti – as your baby and bump grow your abdominals are likely to separate in order to make room in there for your little bundle. This is totally normal.

What to watch out for: you may see some doming where your tummy creates a sort of cone shape when doing certain movements like sitting up to get out of bed.

What to do:

If you notice this, it’s time to start being careful and thinking about how you might do this more safely. It’s a good idea at this point to turn to your side and to push yourself up with your arms.

Pilates during pregnancy - Group of pregnant women on exercise class. Focus is foreground, on pregnant woman stretching her legs on Pilates machine.

Common causes of pain during pregnancy

When it comes to pain during pregnancy, a few things seem to crop up again and again as the source of the problem. These include: pelvic instability, core weakening, pelvic floor weakening, pelvic girdle pain, lower back pain and upper back pain, to name a few.

I’m not saying all this is going to happen to you but these are just some of the things that can cause pain or discomfort.

Pilates to manage pregnancy pain

I used Pilates as a method to help manage my pain and often eliminate it all together.

I felt a few niggles here and there in the second trimester, but these were quickly put right by strengthening and mobilising certain body parts. It was at these times that some outsider perspective from alternative instructors really helped me with my form.

Regardless of any pain or discomfort, moving my body through Pilates also made me feel amazing both physically and mentally.

I feel lucky to have discovered Pilates pre-pregnancy, however, if you haven’t started and you are already well into your pregnancy it’s never too late.

Pilates during pregnancy - A 1-2-1 postnatal Pilates session with a pregnant woman, a baby and a female pilates instructor on floor mats in a pilates studio
The result

I recently went to see a women’s health physio [Physios who specialise in things like pelvic floor function, as well as the various aspects of pre-and postnatal care] for my post-baby check-up.

As part of my check-up, the Physio scanned my abdominals to see how I was healing after the birth. To my surprise (and the surprise of the Physio), I had very little separation and still had some muscle tone.

I can’t promise that this is solely down to Pilates during pregnancy, but I’m pretty sure it has a very good part to play in it.

Do I still need to work hard to get myself back to full strength? Yes. However, I feel that I’m a step ahead of where I could have been had I not practised Pilates during my pregnancy.

If you want to find out about the pregnancy services we offer at Complete Pilates, simply contact us or book your initial sessions.

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Education is key:

These blogs are designed to give information to everyone, however, it is important to remember that everyone is different! If you have not seen one of our therapists and have any questions about injuries, what you have read or whether this may be useful to you, please just ask.

At Complete Pilates we would advise you to always speak to your doctor, physiotherapist, or clinical Pilates instructor here at Complete Pilates if you are worried about starting a new exercise regime.
We are more than happy to help anyone and point you in the right direction. Our biggest belief is that education is key. The more you understand about your injury, illness and movement, the more you are likely to improve.