Whether you want to work on the look of your body post-pregnancy or you’re just concerned about keeping fit, Pilates is an ideal exercise to choose after you’ve given birth. Here are four reasons why:
1. It works on the exact areas which have been affected by pregnancy
Pregnancy puts particular strain on your abdominal area, back and pelvic floor; in essence, your core muscles. Conveniently, Pilates is primarily focused on building up your core, the exact muscles which have been weakened during pregnancy.
These muscles areas will have been significantly weakened during pregnancy – Pilates can help you build them back up in a measured, safe way tailored to your exact needs. For example, after pregnancy you will experience something called diastasis recti, which is the medical term for your six-pack ab muscles drifting apart to accommodate the developing foetus. They make room for the baby and drift off to either side, after pregnancy they are likely to move back in together and may merge back together, though this is not guaranteed. If they do come back together they will still be weak and will need work to develop into strong muscles. Post-natal Pilates can be tailored to work specifically on strengthening these muscles.
But it doesn’t stop there. We all know that the hard graft doesn’t disappear after you’ve had your baby (perhaps an understatement!) and Pilates can be tailored to stretch out and strengthen muscles which are put under strain by parenthood. So it can work on your back muscles which may be under strain from carrying and lifting your baby, for example.
2. It can be scaled up or scaled down like no other exercise
One of the best reasons to do Pilates is that it gives you something that other types of exercise can’t – control. Sure, you can go to the gym and just do an easy session or only stay for a short amount of time, but within that time you might accidentally over-stretch yourself or end up doing exercise which isn’t really helping you in the way you want.
Pilates was originally designed as a recovery treatment, initially for First World War soldiers. That means the exercises are inherently designed to gradually build up strength and to also be customised to suit all different kinds of individual needs.
If you go to a Pilates class with an experienced instructor (which for postnatal Pilates you definitely should) they’ll be able to control precisely how much strain you are putting on your body. They can also adapt exercises in the moment to make them appropriate for your state of being in any given session.
3. It can be tailored specifically to you
Not only can the intensity of the exercise be adapted, but the type of stretches and movements undertaken can be tailored to individual circumstances down to the finest detail. No two pregnancies are the same, and mothers may want different things from Pilates. Some might just want to keep fit whilst others might be keen to really change the look of their body. Others might just want to de-stress. All of these aims can be achieved by practising Pilates. Before you start, tell your instructor what you aim to achieve and they’ll be able to make recommendations. Even within a class of several people an instructor can alter exercises so that they suit your body at that time and help you achieve what you want.
4. It’s a stress buster
Pilates can put you through your paces and simultaneously be relaxing. The nature of the movements and the way the exercise slowly builds up mean it can be far more relaxing than other, more immediately intense forms of exercise. By its nature, Pilates encourages focus on your body and its movements so that you become mindful of your physical presence in a way that you aren’t in your day to day life. This offers the opportunity to relax and de-stress. If you go to a class, your instructor will also ensure the right kind of environment is created for doing Pilates so that it is calming. Pilates also involves measured breathing which further aids relaxation.
Let us know if we have inspired you to join a class or if you have been doing pilates already and think it is great post baby? We’d love to hear your thoughts.