Exercising in pregnancy is a fascinating time as all exercises have to constantly change and be adapted to the woman’s dynamically changing body. All these changes create new needs for her.
Pilates is a wonderful form of exercise for a pregnant woman as it focuses on core stability, posture, strengthening of the pelvic floor and keeping the rest of the body strong, fit and healthy. Pilates creates a spacial and body awareness which is essential during pregnancy. With this exercise modality a pregnant woman becomes in touch and in tune with their changing body.
There are many benefits of Pilates during pregnancy, which include:
- Easy and safe adaptability of exercises
- Improved circulation
- Body and spacial awareness
- Relation during exercises which brings down the blood pressure
- Strong pelvic floor
- Controlled weight gain
- Easier birth
- Quicker recovery after birth
Body changes during pregnancy
There are a number of changes that happens in a woman’s body while she is pregnant. The following are those that a Pilates instructor needs to know about when he or she is training a pregnant woman.
Progesterone and oestrogen are responsible for creating the baby and making sure that pre-term labour is prevented. The hormone relaxin increases which causes the ligaments to become more flexible so that there can be space for the growing fetus.
Relaxin will also loosen up the pelvic joints to prepare for labour and birth. This process will bring along a weakened stability which will affect:
- Core control
Endorphins also increase during pregnancy and so heighten the sense of well-being. In some cases, the woman’s cortisol (stress hormone) levels will increase during pregnancy.
Pilates teaches one to breathe correctly and relax more efficiently. This reduces the levels of cortisol and helps the pregnant woman to enjoy her pregnancy more.
Increased blood volume
A pregnant woman’s blood flow increase by between 30 and 40%. This is because her heart has to get all that extra blood flow down to the uterus and growing fetus. As blood flow increases so does cardiac output. A pregnant woman’s resting heart rate can increase up to 90 beats per minute. So, as a result, exercise will increase a woman’s heart rate even more during pregnancy.
The amount of fluid in the blood increases:
- White blood cells (which fight infection) increase during pregnancy. This is especially true during labour and after delivery.
- The enlarged uterus interferes with the return of blood from the legs and pelvis area to the heart. As a result, swelling (oedema) is common especially in the legs, feet and ankles.
- Varicose veins commonly develop in the legs.
Pilates performed during pregnancy will not increase the woman’s heart rate. Exercise will remain gentle, comfortable and safe.
Levels of lymphatic fluid, amniotic fluid and fluid to all tissues of the body increase during pregnancy.
Water retention during pregnancy helps with flexibility. This allows ample room for expansion. Excess fluid retention can cause oedema, as we said beforehand. Regular exercise will help to prevent excess fluid build-up.
It is essential to keep well hydrated during pregnancy to flush the system and avoid excess and dangerous fluid retention.
Progesterone and relaxin increase during pregnancy. They work to make your muscles, ligaments and vessels soften so they can easily stretch. They allow your stomach, intestines, bladder and many other organs to move to accommodate the fetus. This may cause many changes in the digestive system.
During pregnancy, the digestive system slows down causing heartburn, indigestion, constipation, hemorrhoids and nausea. Having a well-balanced diet, which consists of unrefined and unprocessed food, will help to alleviate uncomfortable symptoms.
Hormones will change the size and shape of a woman’s breasts during pregnancy. Heavier breasts may add to the stress of the woman’s upper body so causing postural problems such as rounding of the upper back and shoulders Pilates will help reduce the tension in the upper back and shoulders. It will also create body awareness which will help the mother to note when she is adopted bad posture.
Pregnancy is an incredibly special time in a woman’s life, one which should be cherished. A Pilates instructor who decides to undertake to train pregnant women must respect the changes that go with this and train her accordingly. Want to know more about training pregnant women? Trifocus Fitness Academy’s Exercise and Pregnancy Course will fill you in! For more information, follow this link.