Learning Pilates in a gym can be challenging especially if you are pregnant and doing private sessions can become expensive. This is why I created a Pilates For Pregnancy course so that pregnant ladies could keep exercising in the privacy of their home in a safe and effective way. I also had several patients and doctors ask me to design this Pilates program to help ladies to be able to do gentle exercise that is tailored for them depending on what trimester they are in.
My Pilates for Pregnancy course will help you to:
During pregnancy the body goes through many changes due to the weight of the growing baby and the hormonal surges. This course will help you to maintain and improve your strength and fitness as you progress through each trimester. It is safe and effective and is at a beginner level.
Here are your instructions:
1. Get permission from your doctor before starting the program.
2. Watch all four introductory videos before commencing.
3. Only watch the videos for the trimester that you are in.
DO NOT WATCH THE FIRST TRIMESTER VIDEOS IF YOU ARE CURRENTLY
IN YOUR SECOND OR THIRD TRIMESTER.
4. You will be given two strength videos and one stretch video per trimester. Do each strength video and stretch video only once per week unless you have done Pilates before and are quite fit. If you have done Pilates before then you can do each video twice per week.
5. The Post Pregnancy videos will be explained later.
6. If you feel any pain, pins and needles, numbness, dizziness or any unusual symptoms before, during or after the exercises stop and consult your health care professional.
T-Zone activation is a crucial part of the Pilates program. The T-Zone consists of the pelvic floor muscles and the Transversus Abdominus (TA) muscle. The TA is the deepest layer of the abdominal muscles and it flattens the stomach and helps to stabilise the spine. The pelvic floor works closely with the TA to aid in core stability and strength. Watch this video and you will learn how to activate your T-Zone.
During most Pilates exercises your spine should be in a neutral position. This means that there is equal force distributed throughout the spine and you won't be straining your back by over arching it. This video will also explain imprinted spine position, which is when your spine is gently pressed against the floor using your abdominals. When you have both legs raised and you are doing a more difficult exercise then you need to imprint your spine against the floor so that you don't strain your back.
In the first trimester you may be feeling tired or have morning sickness so only exercise when are feeling up to it. You may experience dizziness getting up quickly from lying down so be very careful. In this phase of your pregnancy try not to do too much exercise that increases your heart rate rapidly and focus on your T-Zone and pelvic floor activation.
In this video you will perform five fundamental exercises of Pilates that encourage pelvic floor and T-Zone contraction. Take it slowly and focus on your technique.
If you have done Pilates previously you may do this video twice per week (if you are in your first trimester only).
This strength series focuses on your buttocks, back and oblique muscle strength. If you feel any pain, pins and needles or dizziness after or during your exercises stop and see your health care professional for an assessment. If you have done Pilates previously you may do this video twice per week but only if you are currently in your first trimester of pregnancy.
This video helps to stretch your whole body. Only stretch until you feel a gentle pull in the muscle. If you feel any pain then stop immediately. As your body changes shape it is important to gently release the tight muscles so that you can have less pain and discomfort as the pregnancy progresses.
During pregnancy the spinal curves increase due to the weight of the growing foetus and a change in the bodies centre of gravity. In order for your body to remain stable your muscles become tighter. Hormones such a relaxin and progesterone get released causing softening of the ligaments and joint laxity. This process prepares the pelvis for the labour. Back pain can be reduced by stretching and strengthening certain muscle groups and by working on posture. Stretching may also help to prevent leg cramps.
During this phase the baby will start to show and it is important to avoid all abdominal exercises. If the abdominals are too tight it may lead to a rectus diastasis (separation of the abdominal muscles). Inner thigh work may cause groin pain so we will avoid that too, as the pubic bones will be separating slightly as the ligaments loosen. We will also avoid lying on the stomach for obvious reasons and lying on the back can also become uncomfortable due to the weight of the baby occluding the main blood vessels of the mother.
This video concentrates on working the buttock muscles. If you feel any pain during the exercises stop immediately and try again in a few days. If pain persists then see your health care professional.
Do this video two times per week if everything is going well in your pregnancy.
These strength exercises focus on the whole body. We start with the arms/shoulders, then strengthen the quadriceps muscles and back. It also includes two functional exercises: squats and calf raises which are great for stronger buttocks, calves and lower back function. Take is slowly and carefully. Stop and rest if you feel any pain or any unusual symptoms.
You can do this video twice per week if everything is going well and your body is not feeling too sore.
This great stretching routine helps to release all the muscles that we have been working on throughout the program. This includes your buttock muscles, upper and lower back, hip flexors, pectoral muscles and the neck. Only stretch to the point of feeling a gentle pull in the muscle. You can repeat this video twice each week.
In the third trimester your posture will change dramatically as the baby keeps growing. An increased lower back curve will be visible. Be very careful and exercise slowly to avoid straining your body. Abdominal exercises should be avoided but you can still focus on pelvic floor activation. I suggest you only do these two strength videos up until week 36 of your pregnancy and then rest.
This exercise video involves standing exercises only as it can be difficult getting up and off the floor at this stage. Lean on a wall or high chair to help you balance when needed. You can do the video twice per week if you have done Pilates before and are feeling good. Be cautious and stop exercising if you are in pain and see a health care professional.
This standing routine involves a few basic exercises to strengthen your body as the baby grows. It can be done twice per week if you find it easy to do and your body is not too sore.
If you feel any pain or unusual symptoms then see your doctor and stop exercising.
These gentle stretches work on releasing the tight muscles caused by the changes to your spinal curves. Do this video twice a week and only stretch to where you feel a gentle release of the muscle. If you feel any pain or muscle spasm then stop the stretch. Have fun and try and stay relaxed! :)
Well-done for getting this far in the program!!! You should be very proud of yourself. Hopefully by now your body is coping well with the pregnancy and is prepared for the birth. I suggest that you take a break now and rest as much as possible before the birth. Good-luck and stay positive! :)
Hopefully by now you have had a clearance from your doctor and you are ready to start gentle exercise. If the birth was complicated I strongly suggest that you see a Physiotherapist or have a private Pilates session to help you get started. If everything went well then try the next few videos and do them once per day for two weeks. If there is pain or you can't activate the muscles properly during that time then see a health care professional for some advice.
Make sure that you have a clearance from your doctor before you commence this section. Then try and activate your T-Zone and hold for a few seconds. Repeat 10 times and do this once per day for at least two weeks. If you can't feel the T-Zone activating then see a Physiotherapist or a Pilates Instructor for a private session.
Activating your obliques is a basic step necessary to strengthen your core. Follow this video carefully and do it once a day for two weeks.
Lift foot works the T-Zone and oblique muscles to stabilise the pelvis and spine. It also strengthens the iliacus muscle which is located at the inner part of the thigh. Do this video once a day for two weeks.
If you feel any discomfort during this exercise at all then stop.
Abdominal curls work the abdominal muscles, which isn't surprising. Don't forget to flatten and scoop your abdominals in and don't let your stomach rise up. Do this video once a day for two weeks.
Again, if you feel pain during this exercise you must stop and try something else. Seek advice from your health care professional if you are not able to do the post pregnancy exercises and do not continue this program.
This exercise works the abdominals and the obliques. If your neck is straining then try and relax it.
Keep your T-Zone on and don't arch your lower back. If there is pain then stop straight away.
If you have been able to do the exercises in section six for two weeks without any issues then you can try this video and the next one.
This is a full workout for your entire body. I have included my favourite exercises to strengthen your core muscles, buttocks and postural muscles. You should try to do this program a few times a week to maintain your progress and keep your body strong. This will allow you to be more active in your life and prevent back pain.
Try and do this video at least twice a week, it consists of my favourite back stretches. Make sure that you only stretch gently at first and don't force it to the point of pain or discomfort. You should feel a light stretch in the muscles while performing each stretch.
If you have made it this far then you are doing really well and should be on the road to recovery following the birth of your new baby boy or girl. I strongly suggest that you continue Pilates for life and make it part of your exercise routine at least once or twice per week. You can probably join a group class if there were no complications along the way. Please send me any feedback that you might have and if you feel like writing me a review that would be great too!
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CONGRATULATIONS and STAY MOTIVATED!!!! :)
Dr Fleur Castlereagh has 15 years of clinical experience in treating people with lower back pain. She has also experienced years of pain herself after suffering a back injury at the age of 13. Fleur's programs help people to reduce their pain and become more active in the process, so they can live a happy and healthy life. Fleur has created several back courses about posture, ergonomics and Pilates. For more back care information visit her website.