XCEL Fitness Pilates Instructor Chantell Johnson works with many members who are expecting. We asked for her input on common questions women have about practicing reformer Pilates while pregnant. Chantell is an experienced, expert Pilates instructor, but of course, everyone should check with their doctors when pregnant to make sure working out fits for their unique pregnancy.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF DOING PILATES WHILE PREGNANT?
Practicing Pilates is one of the best things you can do to support and nurture your body during pregnancy! An expectant mom-to-be can practice Pilates throughout her entire pregnancy with the approval of her physician. The practice of Pilates focuses on breath and movement. Movement creates strength and helps us feel powerful, breathing helps us relax and aids in stress reduction. Combining breath and movement is energizing to the body, mind and spirit.
Some of the advantages Pilates can provide during pregnancy include improved psychological well being of the mother, regulation of fatigue, improved posture and sleep. It also assists in the prevention of low back pain, and can improve circulation to help prevent leg cramping and swelling.
While a certain amount of weight gain during pregnancy is absolutely necessary for health, Pilates can be valuable for the prevention of gestational diabetes by helping to limit excessive weight gain during pregnancy. Also, increased fitness through Pilates may help the mother cope with labor better and get back into shape more quickly postpartum.
WHAT KIND OF MODIFICATIONS SHOULD PREGNANT WOMEN CONSIDER WHEN DOING PILATES?
An expectant mother should take any modification they feel they need. These modifications will vary depending on each pregnancy. A modification should definitely be taken if there is any discomfort, pain, shortness of breath, numbness or dizziness. Some pregnant women might not be able to lay on their back after the first trimester, while I have seen others that are comfortable laying supine until they deliver.
Being inverted might feel wonderful and release spinal tension for one expectant mother, but create discomfort for another. During pregnancy the body produces a hormone called relaxin, which makes the ligaments and muscles more flexible or relaxed. This affects the joints’ form closure, thus it's advised to avoid going into the end range of any joint. Pilates is wonderful because there are so many modifications that can be taken to create successful and beneficial movement patterns for an expectant mother.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO DO PILATES THROUGHOUT AN ENTIRE PREGNANCY?
It is definitely possible to practice Pilates throughout an entire pregnancy, but of course, this varies according to each woman’s unique pregnancy. Each trimester creates different physiological changes for pregnant women. For instance, during weeks 20-27 the greatest changes in pelvic mobility and lack of stability occur, so it's an essential opportunity to focus on stability during that time. Pilates can provide better alignment to your body, which can help reduce the discomforts that are associated with pregnancy.
ARE THERE ANY PILATES MOVES A PREGNANT WOMAN SHOULD AVOID COMPLETELY?
Each pregnancy is different and can vary from one pregnant woman to the next. It's always important to discuss any exercise routines with your physician and ultimately listen to your body to decide what is right for you. A professional instructor can help you work out alternatives for moves that don’t work for your body, while pregnant or not.
ARE THERE ANY PILATES MOVES THAT ARE ESPECIALLY BENEFICIAL FOR A PREGNANT WOMAN?
Yes! Working in a neutral spine or neutral pelvic position to help with spinal integrity. It's also beneficial to keep your spine mobile and flexible while working in a moderate or small range of motion, such as gentle twisting and gentle lateral flexion. Pilates can also help create awareness and strengthen the pelvic floor, which can be beneficial for delivery and postpartum. It's also great to focus on upper body strength and stability to prepare for carrying your new bundle of joy!
IS THERE ANY SPECIAL ADVICE OR ENCOURAGEMENT THAT YOU WOULD OFFER A PREGNANT PILATES STUDENT?
Tune into your body and have fun while you practice! Do what makes your body feel the best. Pregnancy won't last forever, so try to enjoy it and appreciate the huge accomplishment your body is creating.
Chantell Johnson teaches reformer Pilates at XCEL Fitness on Tuesdays at 6 am and 10 am, Wednesdays at 6 am and 7 am, and Thursdays at 10 am. She also works one on one with clients in private sessions throughout the week.
To book a session with Chantell, or any of our other qualified Pilates instructors, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org