Pilates – before, during & after pregnancy

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pilates good for pregnancy

Pilates are good for you before getting pregnant, whilst pregnant and for getting back into shape after having your baby.

Pregnancy is a time when a woman's body undergoes some of the most dramatic physiological and hormonal changes of her life and the physical changes often come as a shock. One of the things that women do not expect, is musculoskeletal problems. The most common musculoskeletal problems include low back pain, pelvic pain, leg cramps, and carpel tunnel syndrome however there can also be temporary pregnancy related osteoporosis. Studies have shown that pre-natal, ante-natal and postnatal exercise is an important factor in how well a woman can cope with the musculoskeletal effects.  Here we report on three publications that highlight how Pilates exercise can help a woman create the right core strength for pregnancy.

Prenatal

An article published in the RCM Midwives Journal focuses on the ability of Pilates exercise to strengthen the core muscles that stabilise the pelvis and spine and improve breathing patterns. By developing a central core and then using the movements to challenge the core stability before pregnancy, a woman's body is well prepared for the challenges of pregnancy and childbirth.

Antenatal

Pregnant women often feel clumsy during pregnancy and are prone to dropping things or slipping. Falling is the main reason for accidental injury during pregnancy and even a slight fall can be dangerous for the pregnant women.  A review this month reports on the results of a discussion group on preventative fall strategies for pregnant women.  The discussions included environmental factors, wet floors, poor footwear and exercise programs. The review concludes that pregnant women prefer fall prevention strategies that are tailored to their needs and that include counselling and exercises, in particular, special yoga and Pilates classes.

Postnatal

It is commonly thought that the best time for a woman to get back into shape is 6 months after the birth of her child. Some women do reach their pre pregnancy weight by this time but very few actually get back to the level of fitness that they had before pregnancy.  A study published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing looked at the effect of a specially adapted ‘Yoga and Pilates Exercise Programme' on the weight loss, fatigue and depression in women who had recently given birth. All of the women who participated in the study had given birth between 2 - 6 months previously and they were assessed for body composition, levels of depression and fatigue before starting the study. The volunteers then participated in a group exercise session for 60 minutes once a week for twelve weeks and were reassessed. Results showed that there was no change in their levels of fatigue, but their body weight, body fat percentage, fat mass and basic metabolic rate had all gone down substantially. The paper concludes that yoga and Pilates exercise programs benefit both the physical and mental health of women who have recently given birth and should be promoted in the community.
1. Balogh A. Pilates and pregnancy. RCM Midwives. May 2005.
2. Brewin et al. Women's perspectives on Falls and Fall prevention During Pregnancy. MCN Am J Matern Child Nurs. Sept 2014.
3. Ko et al. Community-based postpartum exercise program. J Clin Nurs. Aug 2013.

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