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Doing Pilates During Pregnancy

If you’ve been doing Pilates before pregnancy, you may be wondering if it’s safe to continue. The good news is that you can continue doing Pilates with some modifications throughout your pregnancy. In fact, Pilates exercises target the core muscles – the muscles of the abdomen, back and pelvic floor – that are the very muscles that will help you most during your pregnancy and delivery. By strengthening these muscles, you’re likely to have an easier delivery and experience fewer complications throughout your pregnancy.

However, before you begin any exercise program, check with your health care provider. There may be special considerations for your pregnancy that you need to be aware of. Also, even if you’re already experienced with Pilates exercises, you’ll need to find a Pilates instructor who’s trained to work with pregnant women. You also need to understand that as your pregnancy progresses, you may need to modify the exercises that you do to avoid injury to you and your baby.

Any time you’re exercising during pregnancy, you need to avoid becoming overheated or dehydrated. This is especially important when you’re performing exercises that can be intense. Pace yourself and work according to your energy level. If at any time while you’re exercising you experience any vaginal bleeding, fluid leaking from your vagina, dizziness, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, uterine contractions or dizziness, stop exercising and call your health care provider. If you feel faint or feel like your heart is racing, you’re working too hard and should take a break. If you don’t recover in an appropriate amount of time, call your health care provider.

In addition, at the beginning of your second trimester, you’ll need to discontinue any exercises that require you to lie on your back. Actually, it’s a good idea not to lie on your back at any time during your second trimester, even when you’re sleeping. By this point in your pregnancy, your uterus has grown large enough that lying on your back can obstruct blood flow, which could potentially damage your growing baby.

You’ll also notice that by the end of your first trimester, your center of gravity may have begun to shift. Take special care to avoid becoming off balance – for example, avoid vigorous kicking that could make you lose your balance. As your pregnancy progresses, you’ll also notice increased flexibility because of your body's production of the hormone relaxin. This makes many women feel like they can do much more than normal, but be careful not to overextend yourself when you’re stretching. Above all, listen to your body and try not to push yourself too far.

One exercise specific to Pilates that you may have to modify is the scoop. During the exercise, you’re supposed to concentrate on keeping your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles engaged. In later pregnancy, check with your care provider to see if your abdominal muscles have separated, a condition known as diastasis. If you have diastasis, you may need to modify your abdominal exercises or change to another, safer type of abdominal exercise.

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