5 surprising benefits of Pilates during Pregnancy (Confessions of a Pilates Instructor)
The benefits of Pilates during pregnancy are second to none and if you hear anyone talk about these they will mention things such as Pilates helping you strengthen your pelvic floor, reduce back pain, helps you maintain a healthy weight and improves your recovery post partum and the list goes on. I agree with all of these. However as a Pilates Instructor and recent graduate to motherhood, there were some pretty significant ‘shifts’ that my continuous Pilates practice helped me with that surprised me.
1. I turned from slight control freak to earth mother! I truly found that mind body connection everyone talks about!
Pregnancy can be a roller coaster of emotions with the surge of hormones and changes that are happening in your body which can scare a lot of us as we have zero control over them. I soon realised I need to just give in to this process and enjoy the ride.
I started doing what felt good rather than what would make me look good. This approach made me so excited to get on my mat each day and feel into each movement. My personal practice turned into a beautiful ritual of candle lit rooms and moving my body to find space for me. Movements started looking less rigid, more flowy and towards the last few weeks they became really primal!! I finally felt like I ‘got’ what it felt like to become aware and really connect with the body you are in!
2. It prepared me for active labour and natural birth
Yes, I was one of the crazy people who wanted a natural, intervention and drug free birth as I wholeheartedly knew and understood the benefits for both me and my baby. Being Pregnant is often exhausting so it’s difficult to find the balance of when to rest and when to work. Pilates helped me build a strong physical foundation without feeling like I had ‘overworked’ or drained my energy further. It felt good to know I could safely do exercise and still build up a sweat! More than that it taught me to trust myself and trust that my body already knew exactly what it needed. I just had to switch off and go with the flow!
3. It deepened my understanding of what it means to work with pain
We live in a society that loves quick fixes and taking ‘pills’ to get rid of the first sign of pain. And in doing so we give our power away and think we are broken. Afraid that someone else knows our own body better then we do. Having a consistent Pilates practice helped me realise my own power. The strength I built through my own practice, and the community I had around me through the studio really helped me trust that I knew what’s best for my body before anyone else. It prevented me from spiraling mentally and emotionally out of control if something felt hard or if I had a little niggle here and there and helped me developed a deep understanding of what it means to ‘work with pain’ something that is essential for natural birth.
4. It gave me back my sanity post birth
As a new mother it often seems like people don’t even notice you are there at times. The attention has well and truly shifted from the excitement of you and your big belly to this gorgeous little newborn. It can seem that all people care about is this new baby in your arms and it can often feel like ‘you’ slowly take a disappear. It’s such a time of radical transformation that you can feel really disconnected to yourself, your body and not recognize who you have become.
When you develop a personal practice outside of the studio during pregnancy this is something that you can hold onto that is just for you! Pilates will stop becoming something that is only done in a studio environment and will slowly become something you do in between feeds or naps that helps you remember who you are, helps you reconnect with and love your beautiful, strong evolving body!
5. Wrist Strength & Shoulder Stability
This is something I never really thought about until I started getting sore wrists about 4 months after Indigo was born. I had always done a lot of wrist strengthening exercises pre baby in the classes I was going to but nothing prepared me for the constant load bearing of holding Indigo the same way 10 hours a day! and it ends up really catching up with you. We all tend to favour one side when carrying out kids around so Pilates has definatly helped me become more aware of this and what long term effects those positions may have on my body.