Prenatal Pilates is a type of Pilates designed for pregnant women, and intended to strengthen the muscles of the abdomen, pelvic floor, back, arms, and legs before giving birth. Pilates exercises are typically a series of gentle stretches, similar to yoga, which have been shown to increase strength and flexibility. Pilates was originally developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century, and continues to evolve into different forms, including prenatal Pilates. Many Pilates instructors consider the six principles of Pilates to be centering, concentration, control, precision, flow, and breath.
Gentle exercise during pregnancy has been shown to be very healthy for women, making it easier not just to give birth, but also improving recovery time and preventing muscle injury when caring for a baby. However, it is important to check with a doctor before beginning any exercise program while pregnant. Additionally, it is best not to begin a new prenatal Pilates program independently without some initial background in Pilates. It is also especially important to eat a proper diet and stay hydrated when attempting to exercise while pregnant.
Many Pilates studios and gyms offer classes in prenatal Pilates, which is the best place to start for those who are new to the program. There are also many books and DVDs that provide Pilates instruction for pregnant women. As the body changes throughout pregnancy, it is necessary to continue to modify the exercises being performed to prevent putting any undue stress on the body, and potentially causing damage or injury.
There are some general recommendations when performing prenatal Pilates. It is important to never lay on the stomach, and to avoid laying on the back during the second and third trimesters, which can restrict blood flow to the fetus. Many Pilates exercises can be done on the side, or on the hands and knees, which can be quite beneficial. At all times, it is important to listen to the body, and to stop if something feels wrong. Additionally, if dizziness or lightheadedness occurs, it is important to stop exercising, have a drink of water or juice, and rest. If the dizziness persists, a visit to the doctor should be in order.
Prenatal Pilates is a great way to maintain physical fitness during pregnancy, as well as to reduce stress. Pilates focuses on controlling the breath as well as keeping the body in proper alignment, which is an excellent way to relax. In addition, many Pilates exercises incorporate Kegels, which are exercises designed to strengthen the pelvic floor; this is especially beneficial during and after pregnancy.