Pilates & Pregnancy: Pre and Post-Natal Care

With Mother’s day coming up this weekend, we’ve been thinking about all of the lovely mums we train with every day here at Elite and, in particular, all of the expectant and new mums that we work with. As an instructor, it is incredibly rewarding to be able to be a part of the journey of pregnancy and postpartum care, and to see the results achieved by our clients for a happy pregnancy and postpartum experience. Everyday we get questions from mums and expectant mums about how to stay fit during pregnancy or how to re-gain fitness safely post pregnancy, and there are so many reasons why pilates is the perfect practice for this. At Elite, we offer both pre-natal and post-natal care and here’s why you should consider looking in to it if you’re expecting a little one or if your baby has already arrived.

Why should I practice pre-natal Pilates?

During pregnancy, your body is undergoing big changes (to say the least) and along with that comes certain stresses from back pain, pelvic pain, tight muscles and incontinence. Our pre-natal pilates classes are designed for pregnancies of 12+ weeks and focus on maintaining fitness, mobility and relieving pain.

-Reduce Pain
During pregnancy, our centre of gravity changes as our baby grows and as a result we can experience back and pelvic pain. Our pre-natal course has been designed to incorporate exercises which work to stabilise the pelvis and lower back as well as strengthening the deep abdominals which provide support for the spine and thereby reduce pain.

-Keep the pelvic floor strong
It’s no secret that laughing care-free in pregnancy is not easily done, especially as your baby grows and seems to enjoy cosying up to your bladder! Pilates focuses on strengthening the pelvic floor to avoid incontinence and to have a healthy pelvic floor in preparation for childbirth.

-Speed up the post-natal recovery process
Staying active during pregnancy not only leads to an easier delivery, but it also helps new mums to recover more quickly once their bundle of joy has arrived. At Elite, all of our classes focus on posture, pelvic floor and core. To enquire about our pre-natal course email membership@elitepilates.ie

Why choose Pilates for post-natal care?

Naturally, the first few weeks after having your baby are all about cuddles, changing, feeding, winding and (occasionally) sleeping, but after the blur of the first few weeks of new-parenthood its time to start thinking about taking care of yourself. The recommended time to get started is 6 weeks after giving birth vaginally or 8-12 weeks after a c-section, however you should always check with your GP before getting back into fitness. After having a baby, often we see clients who are eager to throw themselves back into gruelling fitness regimes and feel under pressure to “get their body back” (it didn’t evaporate, its just a little different). Our biggest piece of advice when getting back to fitness after giving birth is to start gently. Your body has gone through whole lot of change in producing a whole other human being, so cut it some slack! Here’s why pilates is a great option for post-natal fitness.

-Improve the pelvic floor
As mentioned above, pilates places a huge focus on the pelvic floor, and for good reason. Our pelvic floor as a band of muscle that runs from the pubic bone to the coccyx and from sit-bone to sit-bone and it holds our bowel, bladder and uterus in place, and so before birth its important to strengthen this band of muscle, but after going through labour, these can be weakened and need our attention post-baby. Your midwife did tell you about your pelvic floor exercises too but in the newborn haze maybe you forgot about them? Pilates helps you to re-engage the pelvic floor to manage post-natal pelvic issues.

-Strengthen the lower back
Because of the weakening of the abdominals during pregnancy and the added weight of bump as well as changed centre of gravity, new mums can end up with some residual back pain after giving birth which it is important to address (especially as you’re carrying around a new baby!) For post natal care, we gently start to strengthen the abdominals, helping them to knit back together and starting to improve conditions such as diastasis rectis. Our classes target the weakened abdominals which have been stretched during pregnancy to start to re-build the deep muscles of the core steadily and safely before advancing.

-Loosens out shoulder stiffness
For all of our breast-feeding mammas, you’ll probably relate to this one! Feeding a hungry baby can cause tightness in the upper neck and shoulder area. In pilates, we work on opening the chest and stretching the shoulders to give you some much needed relief.

At Elite Pilates, we do not run a specific post-natal class, however we do teach many post-natal clients in our Level 1 reformer classes. The reformer is an incredibly supportive piece of equipment which is perfect for post natal care. Sign up for our trial pack today and get 2 classes for €30!

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