If you're reading this and you're pregnant, congratulations!
Maintaining an exercise routine during your pregnancy is vital. It promotes good posture and can help reduce lower back pain, improve physical and mental wellbeing and help facilitate endurance for labour, among many other benefits.
While Pilates is an excellent form of exercise for pregnancy, it's not a good idea to start a new exercise programme after you've found out that you're pregnant. In other words, if you haven't done this type of exercise before, now isn't the time.
If you're already a committed Pilates student, remember that as your body changes, your Pilates routine will need to change too. What's more, before you set foot in your next class, you'll need to ensure that:
1. Your paperwork is complete
Once you've confirmed you're pregnant, you'll need to get written medical clearance from your doctor to continue exercising and fill out the pregnancy forms at Elixr reception.
2. You stop attending mat classes
Unfortunately, Pilates mat classes are out of bounds for pregnant women at Elixr given the amount of time you'll spend lying on your back as well as the amount of spinal flexion required. If you're taking mat classes at another studio, you may find that they will allow you to participate, however it's critical that your instructor provides suitable modifications.
Here are a few other important points to remember:
The golden rule
While every pregnancy is different, if you experience pain or discomfort at any point during exercise, ease off or stop altogether. If you feel nauseous, dizzy, faint or overheated, stop immediately.
The first trimester
It's safe to do most exercises at this stage of your pregnancy, just don't overload your springs in reformer and make sure you avoid any spinal flexion such as abdominal curls – these will cause your abdominals to separate more than they should.
The second and third trimesters
1. Don't lie on your back for more than 5 minutes
This can restrict the oxygen supply to the baby. After 5 minutes, roll over onto your left side and press yourself up safely. Rolling to your left allows more blood to flow back to your heart.
2. Avoid hip rolls or lifting your pelvis above the heart
These actions can lead to a lack of oxygen in your blood system, which can affect the baby's blood supply.
3. Don't lie on your stomach
Just don't. Ever.
4. Don't hold a static exercise for a long time
This can cause your blood pressure to increase. Examples of static exercises include the down stretch and when the instructor is holding the class in a hip abduction (standing side splits).
5. Perform the table top with care
Replace your legs in the table top position by either keeping your feet on your foot bar or crossing your ankles and drawing your knees towards your shoulders, keeping neutral pelvis and spine. Legs in the table top can put pressure on the abdominals and the position will become uncomfortable as your pregnancy progresses.
6. Always stretch very gently
During pregnancy, the relaxin hormone is released into your body to loosen your ligaments and prepare you for childbirth. Over-stretching can cause damage to your ligaments.
7. Watch your alignment closely
Your neutral pelvis and spine will change during the nine months, so make the necessary adjustments as you progress.
Pregnancy is a wonderful time in a women's life. Enjoy it and keep exercising, but remember to keep yourself and your baby safe!