Pilates and pregnancy

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Should you continue with Pilates if you're pregnant? Here are some key considerations for expectant mums.

In the second and third trimesters the supine position (lying on your back) should be avoided, which discounts some Pilates exercises and positions.

As your uterus increases in size, lying flat can put pressure on the inferior vena cava, the large vein that runs vertically along the length of your abdomen. It is responsible for returning blood to the heart and any pressure can make you feel nauseous and impede the maternal and foetal blood supply.

Your abdominal muscles naturally separate during pregnancy. The correct abdominal exercises will strengthen weakened muscles without putting them under too much strain, until they return to the right position.

The key is to take it slow and steady - always warm up beforehand and stop if you feel any pain or shortness of breath. Reduce your pace before coming to a complete stop.

  • Pay attention to your body’s signals and stop when you feel tired. Keep hydrated and cool.
  • Shorten or simplify your workouts over time, as your pregnancy progresses. Don't push yourself too hard.
  • If exercise is too strenuous, there is a risk that less oxygen will reach the baby as the exertion moves blood to muscles and skin instead of to the heart.
  • Most mums-to-be can comfortably manage 30 minutes of moderate physical activity (such as walking or swimming) three to seven days each week without difficulty.
  • Whether you're walking or working out, make sure you stay well below your maximum heart rate. For most, this means maintaining the heart rate at less than 140 beats per minute. This being the case, you don't need to worry about harming your baby.
  • If you experience any of the following, stop exercising immediately: dizziness, headache, nausea, overheating, unusual vaginal discharge or bleeding, stomach or back pain.
  • Call your GP if any of these symptoms worry you or do not resolve within 15 minutes of stopping physical activity.

If you have been instructed by your healthcare provider not to exercise during your pregnancy, then don’t! Some pregnancy-related conditions may make it dangerous. The benefit of protecting your baby by not exercising outweighs any feel-good vibes from a workout or a few laps in the pool.

And of course, it is wise to get your GP or clinician’s stamp of approval, before you begin or change any exercise programme while pregnant.

Related article: "London Pilates Studio gave me my body back"

 

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