This month, I welcome Beth Sanzone to the Corpo Kinetic blog. Beth is a Pilates practitioner and mamma of two with a third on the way. She has an inside look at the benefits of prenatal Pilates for the expectant mother. Here’s Beth:
Happy September! Wow. If you’re like me, summer just flew by! That said, the spirit of renewal that comes with fall makes this time of year enchanting, so we’re ready to embrace this new season with open arms. Speaking of all things new, we wanted to shine a light on pregnancy and how prenatal Pilates can be a safe and wonderful way to move your body during this magical time in a woman’s life. Check with your provider first, but the current – and quite frankly, old – wisdom is that it is important to stay active during pregnancy. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), recommends that activities like walking running, prenatal Pilates, and yoga are all great ways to keep your body moving through pregnancy. We’re naturally partial to Pilates because it’s a great way to strengthen and lengthen your body throughout your entire pregnancy and there are dozens of exercise that meet the specific needs of your body during each stage. As expecting mamas know, your body changes and what you are able to do each week can change drastically. That said, the goal is to keep moving your body in safe and encouraging ways, to feel strong, comfortable and beautiful. And prenatal Pilates does that in spades.
If you need more convincing, here are five benefits of prenatal Pilates:
- Breath – learning how to connect breath to movement is one of Pilates core tenants. It’s the first principle and the most important for a reason. Breath powers us in amazing ways allowing us to connect our mind to the movement. It’s no surprise that improved breathing would be a natural benefit throughout pregnancy. It serves as a daily compass helping calm the mind that can be riddled with anxiety, stress and fear, which comes naturally with motherhood. And it could be said that breath holds an even more important role in labor and delivery. It’s what gets many women through the beautiful yet transcendent experience that is birth.
- Strengthen While Everything is Relaxin’ – During pregnancy the body produces a hormone called Relaxin, which helps loosen ligaments. This hormone is essential in allowing our pelvis to expand during birth. That said, this loosening can also create problems: the combination of lax ligaments and weak muscles can lead to pain and injury. While the ligaments are preparing for birth, we still need to keep joints centered and happy, so it’s important to keep those muscles strong and working throughout pregnancy. Also, labor and delivery can be a process and it takes mental and physical strength to power through. Being active throughout pregnancy can lead to a more peaceful and joyous birthing experience.
- Abs, Abs, Abs – Contrary to what one might think, engaging your abdominals through pregnancy is essential. Of course, there are abdominal exercises that aren’t great – the series of five, roll-ups, etc. – at a certain point, but working the transverse abdominis (the deep core muscle that lives underneath the rectus, or “six pack” ab muschle) and pelvic floor can help with overall balance, reduce lower back pain and can help avoid Diastasis Recti (separation of the rectus abdominal muscles). It’s about both maintaining a strong posture during pregnancy and reducing pain that can come along with a growing uterus. It’s like giving your baby little hugs while in the tummy. So squeeze those abdominals, just make sure you’re doing the right exercises.
- Stronger Postnatal Recovery – It seems logical, but if you take nine months off from moving, it’s going to take much more time to get back into the health you desire once that baby comes. Not to mention you’re not sleeping and likely not able to exercise as much in the those early months. Now, it’s important to honor and listen to your body during pregnancy, but it’s equally important to incorporate slow, mindful moving. By moving today, you are going to make the postnatal recovery speedier and easier.
- Staying Sane – Pregnancy is a magical experience. You are growing a human life. It’s beyond words in many ways. However, this experience also brings a flood of hormones and can be accompanied by anxiety, worry, fear, and a changing body and life that doesn’t look anything like it did before. Simply moving your body with mindful breath helps put our wandering minds at ease, at least for an hour or two. Medical experts, doulas and midwives alike all agree that movement is key to overall mind and body health in pregnancy. Given the varying opinions around pregnancy, it’s a wonderful that’s there’s strong consensus around the value of exercising while pregnant.
Where to start? Start with the basics. Here’s a cheat sheet for some exercises you can do throughout your pregnancy, at home or on the road. That said, the optimal way to add in prenatal Pilates is to work with someone one-on-one or join a group class designated for expectant mothers. Given that you’re body is changing, it’s important to have someone watching how you move and provide manual tips and support. It’s also a great treat to you, your body and growing family. If you have questions about our prenatal programs, please contact us.
September special offer: Are you an expectant mama? Book your first Private pre-natal Pilates session with us during the month of September, and take $30 off our Pilates Intro Package of three sessions. Book a “Pilates Private – New Client”, and mention you’re taking advantage of our September pre-natal special!