Pilates and Pregnancy

As I enter into my 36th week of pregnancy, I have an abundance of emotions circling around my head. One of those emotions is that of appreciation. I am very appreciative of how Pilates has stood by my side throughout my entire pregnancy. I have been teaching Pilates for 7 years and I have worked with a number of pre and post natal women. Experiencing first hand how Pilates has felt throughout my own pregnancy, has really changed my outlook on how beneficial this form of exercise can truly be for the expectant momma.

As I have progressed through my own pregnancy, Pilates has been the only exercise for which I have been able to consistently perform. I am someone who has a lot of general joint laxity at baseline. With pregnancy, there is an influx of the hormone relaxin which further increases joint laxity in order to get ready for the pelvis to deliver a baby. This increase in laxity has caused me to experience a lot of SI and pubic symphysis discomfort. Other forms of exercises which I was trying to stick with focused too much on stretching and asymmetrical positions which exaggerated my pain. I have been able to use Pilates exercises as well as my Physical Therapy background to focus on stabilization exercises which my body greatly appreciates.

I have done a lot of research throughout my pregnancy on how to prevent post partum issues down the road, including urinary incontinence, diasti recti, pelvic pain, low back pain etc. Through research, I have learned that even Pilates exercises need to be modified to help protect the changing prenatal body. I feel appreciative knowing Pilates has kept me physically and mentally strong, ready for the birthing process, as well as for the prevention of issues that I hope to avoid following labor.

A few of my favorite Pilates exercises I have been able to consistently perform include:
· Foot work laying on the jumpboard to allow a modified supine position working on symmetrical leg work without increasing pelvic pain.

· Tall kneeling arm series focusing on arm strength and postural control while stretching my hip flexors in a tall kneeling position.

· Side-lying Pilates Leg series (circles, clam shells etc) for core control and pelvic stability.

· Mermaid on the chair for side-body length improving my breath work.

Dr. Erin Toy