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Prenatal Pilates is a natural fit for the pregnant woman. The Pilates principlesalignment, centering, concentration, control, precision, breathing, and flowcan help with everything from reducing labor pains to remaining relaxed during childbirth and promoting a healthy pregnancy in general. Likewise, its emphasis on strengthening core muscles helps with everything from baby positioning and heartburn to joint inflammation and overall mood. But, needless to say, there are also several critical modifications that must be made to a typical Pilates routine to ensure the safety and well-being of both you and the baby. Here's what you need to know to get the most benefit from a Pilates routine while trying to eliminate any risk that the routine may create.
What to Do with Prenatal Pilates
- Seek Expert Advice: Obviously, the best way to practice prenatal Pilates is to find an instructor/class specifically designed for this purpose. If you're new to Pilates in general, this is doubly true. As your pregnancy progresses, you'll also want to consult your midwife or obstetrician. There are certain guidelines for Pilates for each trimester, but every pregnancy and expecting mom is different.
- Create a Pilates Habit: As great as Pilates is for pregnancy and childbirth, it can just as beneficial for postnatal exercise. Indeed, you've probably already heard of Pilates' potential to get your pre-pregnancy figure back.
- Manage Stretches: It's easy to assume that pregnancy brings with it limited flexibility, but muscles and joints feel sore, in part, because they're preparing for the extra flexibility needed during childbirth. Unfortunately, this extra flexibility is more likely to lead to overdoing stretches than a short-lived career as a contortionist. Stay within yourself. Thighs, hips, and abdominal muscles may be particularly vulnerable to over-stretching.
What NOT to Do with Prenatal Pilates
- Don't Exercise at Maximum Intensity: This one is commonsense and all-too-easy to commit at the same time. Among other modifications, prenatal Pilates is a milder version of conventional routines. Nevertheless, it's important to closely monitor your stamina. You may feel great but a minute or two before feeling faint, queasy, headache, etc. A good rule of thumb is to make sure you can always speak in a relaxed tempo and tone. For a more clear-cut measure, you might think about investing in a heart rate monitor. By your second trimester, you should avoid exercise that causes a heart rate higher than 140 bpm.
Don't Exercise/Stretch on Your Back: This one only applies once you're out of your first trimester, but it's an important one. There is a possibility that you could restrict the baby's blood flow/supply. On a similar note, you should avoid elevating your hips to excess or putting your feet above your head. You can prop your feet up, but your heart needs to take it easy as much as the rest of your body.
Don't Ignore Your Body or Your Doctor: Although some women continue to exercise throughout their pregnancy, many women realize they need to give up this exercise as they enter their third trimester. Likewise, despite the substantive benefits of Pilates, it's not as though you can't have a reasonably healthy pregnancy without exercise. Most importantly, there are a number of conditions that will necessitate that you stop Pilates or virtually any form of exercise, including intrauterine growth retardation, placenta previa, preeclampsia, toxemia, or cervical insufficiency. You should ask your doctor if you have any question about the impact of a complication on your exercise goals.
Finding a Prenatal Pilates Class or Instructor
The to-do list for expecting mothers can seemingly grow faster than the baby itself. By the time you've found an obstetrician with whom you feel comfortable, commencing a search for a qualified Pilates instructor can become overwhelming. You may be able to get the father, friend, or family member to look, but a better idea is to use ServiceMagic's online referral service to find a local Pilates instructor from the comfort of your own home. Simply submit an online request, and we'll find local instructors with the right experience and training.
Marcus Pickett is a professional freelance writer for the home remodeling industry. He has published more than 600 articles on both regional and national topics within the home improvement industry.