There are always new trends emerging in the world of pregnancy. From the babymoon to 3D imaging of your unborn child, mums-to-be sure have lots of options when it comes to making their journey a little more pleasant. One of the latest ideas to hit the scene is the clever integration of pregnancy and Pilates. This low impact form of exercise enables women to exercise safely right up until the birth of their child and beyond.
One of the biggest issues during pregnancy is pelvic instability. During pregnancy, one of the major hormones released is relaxin. This loosens the ligaments in preparation for child birth and increases the amount of available movement in the joint between the tail bone (Sacrum) and pelvis, causing the area to be unstable.
To manage this normal process, good core stability and pelvic control is important, particularly gluteus maximus strength to keep the pelvis stable. This is a major focus of Pilates.
Michael Dermansky, Senior Physiotherapist and Managing Director from MD Health Pilates, highlights five of the biggest benefits of undertaking Pilates during and post pregnancy:
Improved pelvic and core stability: Improving your gluteus maximus strength and activation is a major part of preventing or managing pelvic instability. Often women can manage poor gluteus maximus strength prior to pregnancy because the pelvic girdle is relatively stable. However, the addition of relaxin and slightly more weight during pregnancy is usually the straw that breaks the camel’s back and can lead to pelvic pain. This is particularly important later in pregnancy and after birth, when pelvic instability can persist if this area is not strengthened.
Improved ability to manage your pregnancy: Having better core stability, pelvic control and upper body strength means that you can generally manage better during the pregnancy. This means you can cope with the increased weight of the baby and fluid and the normal fatigue caused by the pregnancy. Women who start their Pilates program early in the pregnancy are able to cope with exercise all the way up to childbirth. In fact, we have had a couple of phone calls in the past from clients calling to say that they will not be in for Pilates that day because they have gone into labour!
Improved ability to manage after childbirth: Like any medical procedure, the stronger you are before childbirth, the easier it is to cope with the labour or a caesarean. The recovery can often be faster.
Better management of other medical related issues with pregnancy: Maintaining and improving muscle tone are major factors in the management of medical complications related to pregnancy such as gestational diabetes, increased fluid retention and load on the heart. Muscle tone is very important in maintaining the optimal amount of glucose receptors to manage your normal blood sugars, and in helping assist your heart in pumping the blood back towards your heart for normal blood fluid movement.
Improved ability to cope long after pregnancy: We commonly see women struggling with pelvic instability long after pregnancy, especially after the birth of their second or third child. They are often told that it would go away after childbirth, but it can persist for years afterwards. This can be addressed at any time and involves strengthening your core stability and gluteus maximus muscles.
Kim Hung, a member of MD Health Pilates, had a smooth pregnancy and birth and credits the experience to her personalised Preggilates Program designed by MD Health Pilates. She comments: “Whilst I was pregnant, a Physiotherapist friend encouraged me to do Pilates. At the time, I was already participating in yoga and aqua aerobics classes, but I decided to give it a go.”
“At 30 weeks pregnant I was able to commence a personalised program with MD Health Pilates. Although I have always been quite active, I just loved the way Pilates has given me more strength in my core, not to mention my entire body. I am 100% confident that it’s the reason I had managed an extremely smooth and non-traumatic natural child birth experience – drug free!”
Kim continues: “I have since continued with a post-birth Pilates program, which I have found highly beneficial as I now have a growing infant. It’s made me so much stronger and more energised, that I look forward to every session.”
It is important to be seen by a qualified Pilates instructor who can recommend suitable pre and post-natal exercises. For more information about MD Health Pilates’ Preggilates Program visit www.mdhealth.com.au