The female body experiences many changes throughout pregnancy and the postpartum period. In particular, women may experience reduced core and pelvic floor strength and stability, changes to posture, ligamentous laxity and general muscular tightness. The great news is… movement and exercise can help all of these changes!
One of the most popular forms of exercise we use for women throughout pregnancy and into the postpartum period is Pilates. One of the most common questions we get asked by women is “Is Pilates safe?” The answer is simply, yes. One of the reasons why Pilates is so effective is due to the significant focus on activation of the Transverse Abdominus (TA) and Pelvic Floor muscles throughout all of the exercises. A strong TA and pelvic floor are the key muscles responsible for supporting the pelvis and spine, and are often left weakened after pregnancy and birth.
Strengthening the TA and pelvic floor is highly recommended prior to falling pregnant and throughout gestation, to prevent lower back and pelvic girdle pain, incontinence and prolapse. Focusing on TA and pelvic floor training will also encourage a quicker recovery following birth (both vaginal and c-section) and enable you to get back into the activities you enjoy sooner. Women are encouraged to get straight back into their basic TA and pelvic floor rehabilitation when given the “all clear” by their treating team following birth, then progress back to supervised, tailored Pilates sessions during the post-natal recovery period.
Changes in postural loads are another inescapable part of pregnancy, its no accident that between 60-75% of women experience lower back or pelvic girdle pain during pregnancy. These altered body positions can result in ongoing back pain well beyond the post-natal period if not corrected. Women may also experience joint pain, and episodes of instability due to ligamentous laxity, due to altered hormones. All of these changes can occur due to the growing baby, breast size, and increased physiological demands on the body. While some of these changes will resolve post pregnancy some conditions often persist well beyond the postnatal period if not managed correctly.