Staying active during pregnancy is quite the feat, but not all have been able to do it. Prenatal Pilates has a host of physical benefits that help women during pregnancy and labor and into the postpartum period.
Preventing Diastasis Recti
As a woman’s abdominal muscles stretch to accommodate the growing uterus, a separation between the rectus muscles begins. This is normal and keeps the muscles from having to overstretch. However, this separation becomes a bit too pronounced in some women and it is difficult for the muscles to return to normal after labor and delivery.
Diastasis recti is not dangerous, but the belly will retain a vaguely pregnant appearance years after delivery. Short women are more likely to get diastasis recti simply because the belly has to grow further out. To help prevent it from occurring, pregnant women should focus on their transverse abdominals, the muscles deep in the abdomen, and stop focusing on the superficial “six pack” muscles. Strong abdominals help support the growing size and weight of the belly of the uterus, acting almost like a corset to put less strain on the back and shoulders.
Lowering the Risk of Stress Incontinence
Many women experience a loss of bladder control after birth when they sneeze, cough, laugh, or exercise. This is because the pelvic floor weakens and the sphincter in the bladder becomes weak. As the uterus grows during pregnancy, the pelvic floor is responsible for supporting the bladder. When it is time to deliver the baby, these same muscles have to become completely lax. Pilates helps pregnant women feel the contraction and relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles, indicating they are working the muscles as they become strong and flexible. The flexibility returns the pelvic floor to normal post-partum.
Strengthening the Back and Preventing Back Pain
As the belly grows, the back starts to bear the burden of that extra weight. Many women get back pain as their pregnancy progresses. Good posture alleviates back pain, but good posture is hard to come by when the center of gravity is thrown off by a burgeoning belly. Strong back muscles improve posture because they’re strong enough to support the extra weight. Strong back muscles also play a part during labor and delivery and reduced back pain when new moms are constantly holding a baby or hunched over feeding their newborn.
Pilates uses breath to support different postures and get students through difficult moments when the muscles are bunched and burning. Breath work is important in prenatal Pilates, and these techniques are useful during labor, too. Women have to breathe through contractions, pushing, and delivery. Deep breathing while pushing puts more power behind the pelvic muscles, reducing how long women are pushing.
Prenatal Pilates is a great form of low-impact exercise that a healthy pregnant woman can successfully do for her entire pregnancy. Contact Zero Gravity Fitness today to schedule an appointment.