Every pregnancy and childbirth is unique. The emotional and physical challenges facing new mums can be overwhelming and Pilates can be an excellent method of safely exercising whilst reconnecting with your body. Here we’ve compiled a list of just some of the benefits of pilates post childbirth.
- Postural Awareness
During pregnancy, your centre of gravity move forwards and the curve in the small of your back increases, causing your pelvis to tilt forwards. These postural changes can result in abnormal walking and movement patterns that can be hard to change. Pilates teaches “correct alignment” of the whole body and within this your body can work most efficiently.
In addition to improving standing posture awareness, sitting postures required for breastfeeding can result in increased stiffness throughout the upper back and regular pilates stretches improve spinal mobility and flexibility to prevent or manage any aches and pains often experienced in these positions.
- Abdominal Strength
During pregnancy, your abdominal muscles lengthen and stretch as the baby grows. After childbirth, the abdominal muscles usually recover and spontaneously come together again but in some cases, they remain separated and for some women this separation (diastasis recti) can be severe. The resulting lack of stability can result in increased low back pain and pelvic girdle pain.
Pilates focuses on strengthening from the core outwards, in most cases women can start exercising six weeks after a natural delivery and 12 weeks after a C-section; it’s advisable to get the green light from your doctor beforehand. Your pilates teacher should ask about your child birth history and offer bespoke exercises accordingly. Exercises should not be progressed too quickly in women with diastasis recti as this can worsen symptoms.
- Pelvic Floor Strength
Many women suffer with pelvic floor problems post-pregnancy from a natural delivery or simply from the load of the baby. While some believe that if they had a C-section they don’t need to engage their pelvic floor, the weight of the baby bearing down on the pelvic floor particularly in the final weeks can result in pelvic floor weakness regardless of delivery. This weakness can result in varying degrees of urinary incontinence. Typically, women may experience stress incontinence when laughing or sneezing or sometimes running. If you suffer with any urinary incontinence it’s important to let your pilates teacher know and exercises and movements can be modified. The good news is that research shows that physiotherapy and targeted retraining of the pelvic floor has excellent outcomes in many cases so don’t suffer in silence, see a womens’ health physio!
- Relaxation and Reconnection
For nine months you have provided your baby with warmth, nourishment and protection; perfect conditions for growth and development of your baby. Pilates gives women a chance to re-engage with their body and remind themselves of their bodies pre-pregnancy! The words relaxation and new mums tend to be mutually exclusive but Pilates allows you to focus on you and have a mental break from the demands of motherhood.
A post-natal Pilates class is a good opportunity to meet other mums and socialise. Motherhood can be an overwhelming time for many new mums so this support network can be vital.
So, remember it doesn’t matter if you are a pilates aficionado or if you are a first timer tell your teacher your childbirth details and let them know if you are suffering with any low back pain or any other issues. Our instructors will prompt you for more information if required and treat all issues with the utmost discretion.