Exercise, and in particular Pilates, can be a great way to deal with the physiological and psychological changes that occur during pregnancy. During pregnancy the body releases a hormone called relaxin which increases joint laxity particularly in the pelvic girdle. Although advantageous during birth, it can also cause stability issues particularly in the spine and pelvis during pregnancy. Pilates helps to strengthen the muscles that hold the joints in place to increase joint stability and to prevent musculoskeletal injuries that may occur during pregnancy. Awareness of the pelvic floor helps to stabilize the lower back and pelvis and Pilates focuses on pelvic floor utilization and connection. A stronger pelvic floor may also reduce the risk of incontinence symptoms post birth.As the baby grows and the mother gains weight the lumbar spine becomes more lordotic and the center of gravity changes. This affects both posture and balance in the pregnant client. Pilates exercises will focus on ankle stability and the lateral hip muscles which are important muscles used in stance and gait. It will also focus on strengthening the upper back while not overworking the back extensors in the upright posture. Working the upper back muscles is important as they may become elongated during pregnancy and need to be strengthened as they are used constantly by the new mom when holding and carrying the baby.
Pilates may also improve psychological well-being for the mother—an increased level of fitness may help the mother cope with the demands of labor. It is important to receive approval from your physician prior to beginning a Pilates regimen. It is also important to work with an instructor who has taken training specific to the physiological changes that occur during pregnancy and the modifications that are necessary throughout.