Many women are unaware of how Pilates during pregnancy can be beneficial for both the pregnant woman and her baby. Through this exercise program, it is possible to work on fundamental elements so that pregnant women have a more comfortable and healthy pregnancy .
The importance of practicing sports during pregnancy
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) , physical exercise during pregnancy has reduced risks. In fact, it has been found to bring several benefits to most pregnant women. However, it is important to change some exercise routines due to body changes .
Some examples of the benefits of regular sporting activity during pregnancy are:
- Improvement or maintenance of physical capabilities;
- Aid in weight control;
- Reduced risk of gestational diabetes in obese women;
- Improvements in psychological well-being.
During the gestation period , a woman's body undergoes several anatomical and physiological transformations. These must be taken into consideration when defining the appropriate physical exercise.
The increase in weight and the change in the center of gravity are the most significant and visible changes. The emergence of progressive lordosis, resulting from these structural changes, can cause low back and pelvic pain throughout pregnancy.
The pain may worsen due to increased muscle weakness, poor joint flexibility and mobility, poor posture, and compensations that women experience during pregnancy. Strengthening your abdominal and back muscles can minimize this risk, according to ACOG.
Why is Pilates during pregnancy a good option?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends the practice of Pilates during pregnancy and notes that more and more pregnant women are turning to this modality. The philosophy and strategy of Pilates can and should be applied to pregnant women , because its practice strengthens the muscles responsible for lumbopelvic stabilization. It also helps to improve postural alignment and breathing pattern, as well as to optimize movements during daily activities.
Pilates during pregnancy can be performed on the floor or using dedicated machines. Pilates Matwork is the most common and well-known. The ideal is to practice the sport in a specific space. In addition to benefiting from small classes, it is also advisable to work with professionals who are used to it and know what adaptations to make.
In this option, small materials can be used, such as balls, mini-balls, elastic bands, rollers, among others. These items help and intensify the execution of the exercises.
Pilates machines are devices that use springs as resistance and do a great job during pregnancy and recovery from childbirth. The ideal is to find a space with small classes, preferably even smaller than in floor classes .
If you have the possibility, you can try individual Pilates classes during pregnancy. In this case, the instructor's focus will be entirely on you, meaning you can get more out of the exercises.
What can be improved by practicing Pilates during pregnancy?
- Breathing: As the baby grows, the diaphragm has less space to expand, which can cause the sensation of difficulty breathing. Greater awareness of breathing will help pregnant women reduce this issue;
- Concentration : Pilates allows for more focus and greater awareness of a pregnant woman's needs, as well as her own body;
- Precision : There is an improvement in movements, in order to work correctly and without compensation;
- Centralization : It is essential for the development of the muscles responsible for supporting the body. It also helps strengthen the transversus abdominis, multifidus, pelvic floor and latissimus dorsi.
Exercises that challenge stability are introduced into the class program when these muscles are well developed. Once again, it is important to emphasize that the objective of Pilates exercises during pregnancy is to improve the physical, physiological and mental condition of the pregnant woman.
It is never enough to reinforce the importance of practicing physical exercise throughout pregnancy . However, this should only begin after consulting your doctor .
If you have never played any type of sport and are now starting physical activity, the first trimester will not be the best option. You must wait for the beginning of the second trimester . If you are already an athlete in your daily life, then you can maintain your exercise routine. And, by the way, discover the benefits of Pilates during pregnancy!
Care to take in each trimester of pregnancy
I have already explained here why future mothers should practice Pilates during pregnancy. However, there are some precautions to be taken depending on the progress of the pregnancy.
1. First trimester
Throughout pregnancy, it is necessary to adapt the exercises to the pregnant woman's needs. In the first trimester , after medical approval, the pregnant woman can perform all the exercises, but always taking into account her sensations. At this stage, it is important to perform exercises with low to moderate load . This is a phase to gain greater body awareness and work on spinal mobility.
2. Second trimester
In the second trimester , pregnant women begin to produce a hormone called relaxin, which is responsible for the mobility of ligaments. This implies a need for increased attention when stretching exercises, due to an increased risk of injury.
This is the phase in which you begin to notice an increase in your belly and which can lead to an increase in pain in the lower back, due to biomechanical changes. During this period, pregnant women may feel some discomfort in the pelvic area, due to the enlargement of the pubic symphysis. Therefore, it is important to strengthen certain areas, such as the rhomboids, paravertebrals, internal and external rotators of the thigh and transversus abdominis. Furthermore, it is beneficial to practice pelvic floor exercises.
In the second trimester, it is necessary to be careful with exercises performed on your back. Especially when the sixth month of pregnancy approaches, this type of exercise should be shorter in duration.
In this sense, I recommend all pregnant women who practice Pilates during pregnancy, or another type of exercise, to consult a physiotherapist who specializes in women's health . It is important for any pregnant woman to assess her pelvic health.
3. Third trimester
Practicing Pilates during pregnancy becomes more limited in the third trimester . The increase in weight and the difficulty in getting into certain positions will make the work even more specific.
It is important to focus the exercises on the upper and lower limbs . Furthermore, pelvic mobility must be improved, in order to prepare the future mother for the resistance needs when caring for the baby.
With Pilates during pregnancy, we continue to work the pelvic floor, now in order to prepare for relaxation . At this stage, and if the woman has a scheduled vaginal birth, work to strengthen the pelvic floor is no longer intended. What we try to do is program exercises that help during childbirth .
This way, the future mother will be able to more easily use abdominal contraction to push the baby. Furthermore, it will relax the pelvic floor. Here, working in partnership with a specialist physiotherapist is very important.
Return to exercise postpartum
Exercise routines can be resumed gradually after birth as soon as it is clinically safe. The time needed before you can return will depend on the type of birth (vaginal or cesarean section) and whether or not medical complications occur.
As a rule, I recommend women consult a specialist physiotherapist again to assess their pelvic or scar health (in the case of a caesarean section). This way, it can be ensured that the new mother's recovery is more effective and safe.
According to ACOG, without reasons that make it impossible to practice sports , the rapid resumption of these activities does not result in adverse effects. However, this entity considers it important to consult a specialist.
At this stage, it is important to bring your body back into balance after all the changes suffered during pregnancy. An assessment of abdominal diastasis (separation of the rectus abdominis) must be carried out and we can begin to think about the work to be carried out.
Pilates will provide a calm, conscious and gradual activity in the recovery of the body after childbirth. This is done through specific exercises to strengthen muscles throughout the body, in addition to mobility exercises .
Postpartum is as important as pregnancy
With the arrival of a child, many mothers forget to take care of themselves postpartum. However, there are an increasing number of women who realize that this phase is as important as pregnancy. Having a balanced body and mind is extremely important.
From the outset, it is essential to understand that the body took nine months to prepare. As such, the woman's mind took just as long to adapt. From one moment to the next, everything that was somehow quite cozy was left with a lot of space. Furthermore, hormones begin to drop abruptly and emotions end up running high.
Therefore, it is important that women have good support, that they understand that the body will recover gradually and that it is essential to give it time. Fatigue and sleep deprivation are factors to take into account.
In this aspect, Pilates – through the breathing work that is carried out, the concentration on oneself and the precision of the movements – has a strong contribution:
- Physically, it helps reduce a woman's feeling of fatigue ;
- Contributes to stress relief ;
- It helps to alleviate the pain caused by the postures adopted when breastfeeding and caring for the baby.
Eight.One by your side during pregnancy and postpartum
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