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Many expecting moms tend to avoid even the slightest form of physical exercise. The thought of sweating through your clothes while carrying an extra load in your belly can be quite daunting. It’s enough of a challenge just to remain comfortable while walking or sitting down, so exercising when pregnant can be a pretty painful action. Thankfully, there are plenty of exercises that you can carry out with minimal fuss or excruciating discomfort. One of them is Pilates.
According to Candice Chin, trained professional and founder of Pilates Fitness, “Pilates is one of the best exercises to practice during pregnancy as it builds core strength”. Pilates targets the tummy, back and pelvic floor muscles without straining other joints.
Pilates aims to build core strength by toning your abdominals and pelvic floor muscles. As your baby grows, the added weight requires you to provide more support from your abdominals, back and pelvic floor muscles. Toning these muscles ensures a more comfortable pregnancy and delivery.
Due to the changes in your body, your center of gravity will shift, making it harder for you to remain in balance. Pilates has been shown to improve your balance by using the deepest layer of your tummy muscles to stabilise your back and pelvis. Pilates also strengthens the abdominal muscles to ease the back pain that comes with most pregnancies. In addition, Pilates is great for new moms who want to get their svelte figure back!
The beauty of Pilates lies in its ability to be modified to suit the different trimesters of your pregnancy. These adaptations help you achieve the intent of the exercise with your growing body. If done the right way, you are ensured a safe pregnancy workout all through the nine months.
First and foremost, it’s highly important that you inform the instructor of your pregnancy, and which trimester you’re in. This is to ensure you and your baby’s safety, as there are moves that you should strictly avoid. As each pregnancy is unique, your instructor would be able to personalise the moves according to your abilities. It is also good to communicate with your instructor on the experience you have before, during and after your workout. This ensures the best possible workout for your body at each stage of the pregnancy right from the start.
Your body experiences high levels of fatigue and lower blood pressure in the first trimester, due to the hormonal changes. This hormonal change causes you to experience nausea and additional strain to your muscles and ligaments as your body attempts to make you more flexible. Exercises in the first trimester should be kept gentle and relaxing to make sure you don’t overstretch.
As your baby bump starts to show, the second trimester focuses on strengthening your upper and lower back muscles. Ladies in their second trimester are also taught to enhance mobility in the lower trunk, along with the toning of pelvic floor muscles. Strong pelvic floor muscles sustain the baby’s growing weight while preventing urinary incontinence and miscarriages. It also promotes an easy delivery.
Entering the third trimester is a sign that you’re fast approaching your due date. Pilates in the third trimester focuses on gentle stretches, arm exercises and breathing exercises (which you will find extremely beneficial during labour) while strengthening the legs and butt.
You will find yourself getting involved with the exercise ball during this period. Using an exercise ball helps to loosen up the pelvic joints and muscles in preparation for delivery. Apart from conditioning the abdominal area involved in childbirth, the exercise ball provides relaxation, comfort and physical relief. Sitting on the exercise ball during labour also makes spasms of childbirth less pronounced and more bearable.