Note: The following information should NOT be substituted for medical advice from your doctor. Please consult your physician for information on what will be appropriate for you during your pregnancy.
The available information on pregnancy and exercise can be very confusing – even conflicting. STOTT PILATES follows the current standards practiced in the fitness industry regarding safety and pregnancy and the guidelines set out by professional organizations such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada. We cover this topic in depth in our Injuries & Special Populations course. What follows is some general information and should not be substituted for the advice of a physician and the guidance of a qualified fitness professional.
No two women’s bodies are the same, and this is especially true during pregnancy. There are workouts that are quite appropriate for some people during pregnancy and not for others. During a normal, healthy pregnancy, moderate exercise is safe for the foetus. Exercise is also said to prevent varicose veins, haemorrhoids and low back pain and helps to boost self esteem, maintain fitness levels and prepare the body for the physical demands of motherhood.
A woman’s body goes through many changes during pregnancy and exercise must be adapted and modified as the pregnancy progresses. The beauty of Pilates is that it can be individualized for anyone’s ability. Workouts and schedules during the first trimester may have to be adjusted around fatigue levels. Over the course of the pregnancy the demand on the abdominal muscles should be decreased. During the second trimester these muscles become stretched out, and some women experience diastasis recti (separation of the abdominal muscles). With reduced abdominal support there is a greater risk of injuring the lower back. Further, due to hormonal changes during pregnancy, the ligaments surrounding the joints become lax, leaving them loose and vulnerable. For this reason, you should be careful not to overstretch. It is important to continue strengthening and rebalancing the muscles around the joints – supporting the body as it goes through postural changes related to pregnancy.
Today many guidelines for pregnancy indicate that after approximately the 16th week of gestation the supine position (lying on your back) should be avoided as the maternal blood supply and subsequently the fetal blood supply may be affected. In the second trimester, positioning must be adjusted and small equipment (particularly the Spine Supporter) combined with the Mat work exercises becomes very useful. As well, the possibilities offered by the Reformer, Cadillac and Stability Chair are helpful. Of course, drinking lots of water, avoiding overexertion and overheating are always important.