Pilates and Pregnancy - Do's and Don'ts

Pilates is gaining popularity as an exercise that is good during pregnancy. Many advocates have stepped forward to tout Pilates as a means for increasing muscle flexibility, strength, and balance. Even enthusiasts, though, agree that there are some precautions you should take in undertaking Pilates during pregnancy. Here are some do's and don'ts to keep in mind.


* Check with you healthcare provider. Whether you are seeing a midwife, OBGYN, or family doctor during your pregnancy, make sure he or she is aware that you want to do Pilates. Your healthcare provider should support your decision to do Pilates; if not, don't go against his or her advice. There may be reasons why you shouldn't pursue Pilates while pregnant, even if you know others who have done it.

* Gently stretch your muscles. Your body naturally becomes more flexible during pregnancy anyway, and helping it along a little can be very helpful in facilitating labor. Gentle stretching is simply going with what your body is telling you to do - get limber!

* Strengthen core muscles. Pelvic floor, lower back, and abdominal muscles are key players during labor. Pilates focuses on these muscle groups.

* Look for specific pre-natal instruction if this is your first time doing Pilates. You might enroll in a pre-natal Pilates class, or use a DVD or internet clip specially geared toward pregnant women.

* Work on breathing. As anyone who has given birth can tell you, breathing deeply and calmly is essential to a more comfortable, effective labor. Pilates breathing exercises can help you with that.


* Stretch too hard. Your body is loosening its joints, and stretching your muscles to the point of pain can be harmful.

* Let yourself get winded. Experts suggest testing your limits this way: during your Pilates workout, you should be able to speak in a normal tone of voice without gasping and panting.

* Do exercises that require precise balance unless you have someone with you. Your center of gravity shifts when you're pregnant, and you have a different body posture when you stand upright. Exercises that seem easy or that you were able to do easily before can upset your balance when you're pregnant.

* Expect your moves to look or feel the same. Try not to get frustrated - embrace the difference in your body. It's doing what it's supposed to do, and it just is not the same as your non-pregnant body. Getting used to this idea beforehand can help ease the frustration or other negative feelings you might have as you find your body not cooperating like it used to.

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