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Can I do Dynamic Pilates during and after pregnancy?

Pilates and Pregnancy may not be the first pairing that comes to mind. But we are here to show you that reformer Pilates fitness can work wonderfully during pregnancy, as well as before and after.

Pilates and Pregnancy? More Likely than You’d Think!

As many of you may know, both myself and Tiffany have been through two pregnancies on our reformers! And as we are about to embark on more pre and postnatal classes, I thought it would be good to set the record straight about pre and postnatal Dynamic Pilates.

Sooooo many clients get referred to me by doctors and medical professionals when they fall pregnant. This is because Pilates (and Yoga) are deemed to be a ‘safe’ pre and postnatal form of exercise. Which they are, BUT what they (all) don’t understand is that there’s so many different types of pilates out there, and not all of them are going to be suitable for pregnancy and postnatal, because guess what guys, pilates is not ALL about gentle stretching!

I’m all about keeping active during and after pregnancy, however, having had my fair share of issues (a prolapse after my third baby) I know how important it is to be sensible too.

My general rule of thumb is that you can continue whatever your body is used to already doing (in Pilates classes). As long as you make modifications along the way. That means that you shouldn’t start Dynamic Pilates pre or early postnatal, as your body isn’t used to it. As those of you know who do our classes (or other ‘dynamic’ style classes) it’s a challenging workout that requires a lot strength, coordination and endurance. Unless your body is used to being pushed to these levels, then this isn’t a good time to start. If you’re new to reformer Pilates, then you should be doing specialist pre and postnatal classes to ease you in.

So, if my body’s used to it, what can and can’t I do?

There’s a heap of advice out there for each trimester, but generally speaking (without going into each separate trimester) the rules for are pretty similar:

  1. No curl up action AFTER the first trimester (gradually building back up to this postnatally)
  2. Reduce/modify plank holds and anything that causes a lot of intra abdominal pressure
  3. Limit the amount of time spent laying on your back as you get heavier during pregnancy
  4. Reduce wide ranges of movement to avoid injury
  5. Pay particular attention to good posture, alignment and technique to avoid injury
  6. Don’t move in and out of positions too quickly
  7. Avoid tricky balances!

Apart from the obvious physical changes that will limit movement, hormones are also flying high (relaxin the hormone that softens ligaments, muscles and joints both pre and postnatal, especially when still breastfeeding ). This is why we shouldn’t go into extreme ranges of movement.

Basically, pregnancy and post baby is not a time to be pushing yourself to the extremes, (you have plenty of time for that don’t worry!). It’s more about maintenance, relaxation and preparation (for birth) and then rebuilding the foundations slowly once your baby is born.

Pilates and Pregnancy, My Main Advice:

If I could advise one thing (from my own experience) that would be to work on your pelvic floor and don’t take it for granted! Go see a specialist who can teach you how to connect properly (there’s more to it than just squeezing you know!) and then practice every day (a few times a day) and apply these techniques to your every day life and importantly in class. Because in all honesty, even the BEST Pilates teachers don’t have time in a group class to teach pelvic floor properly, to the point where everyone really ‘gets’ it. Especially not in a dynamic class.

And finally, now we end on a more positive note after all the warnings. I truly believe that Pilates has been my saviour throughout my last two pregnancies. AND for getting me back on my game after baby. You cannot underestimate the power of exercise both physically and mentally. Don’t be fearful, just listen to the guidelines, take them on board and keep moving!

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