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Pregnancy and Pilates

We are joking at the moment that something is in our water. We have three instructors as I write this that are pregnant while, one just had her first and is due back this week. We thought it would be a great time to delve into how Pilates helped or made a difference in the pregnancy of these instructors.  The great thing about Pilates is that it can be tailored to each persons needs during and after pregnancy. As some know each pregnancy is different and each person is as well. On that note doctors differ on some things when it comes to their patients and working out.  So, why not see what it is like for those instructors who teach others and how it affected them during their pregnancies. 

Kale as I mentioned had her little boy 2 months ago and is set to come back to WAP this week. She actually was doing Pilates for about 7 years before getting pregnant.

Kale found that her focus while pregnant became more on stabilizing and conversely stretching the pelvic region, her hips. low back and pelvic floor. The stability work in the beginning of her pregnancy helped to keep her mobile and comfortable for as long as possible. She also focused a lot on abdominals and pelvic floor strength. She enjoyed doing the deep squatting with the assistance of the roll bar on the Cadillac to help open up her pelvic without a risk of a fall during the end of pregnancy. "I also believe that is part of the reason my labor progressed so quickly with a 9lb 8 oz baby boy!"

For Kale the back extension work felt great in Pilates because it would ease the pain of gravity pulling her spine into flexion all day long. The side lying leg springs on the Cadillac with light springs were also "heavenly" because they would open her hips and loosen the tension that would build up there. She continued her practice 3-5 a week while pregnant.

"I feel it definitely helped because I could take the alignment work that I did in my workouts and apply it while moving throughout my day. It helped to protect against the lapses in proper alignment that occur due to the changes in the body while pregnant.

Courtney is due in mid September and has found her Pilates practice did change of course as her pregnancy progressed, she had to slow things down and focus more than ever on conscious body, breath and alignment. Finding neutral took more focus than ever for her as her body changed daily and things in her body shifted. She also suffered bilateral impinged nerves in her shoulders which eliminated weight  bearing exercises for her halfway through her pregnancy. She also had an old dance injury in her SI Joint that flared up so her Pilates practice became more essential then ever. 

  "For years I did Pilates and am still going strong teaching and practicing. In my various explorations of yoga, spin and other activities to stay healthy and in tune with my body. I maintain Pilates with an intensified emphasis on breathing and focus during practice is the best thing a woman can do to prepare both for labor and the exhaustion that ensues with pregnancy. Pilates is the complete coordination of body, mind and spirit. Which all need to be in line to make you the calmest, strongest version of yourself as your body is changing and creating life. The focus on balanced movement and control Pilates offers is unparalleled by other practices and essential for a shifting changing body."

 The most helpful part of  her  Pilates experience was an intimate knowledge of how all the muscles and boney structures interact. So as shifts and misalignments were thrown her way she was able to pause, regroup and think through how to correct that alignment. Knowledge is power and that is comforting when so much of the journey of pregnancy is unknown and unpredictable. " A connection with your body, how it moves and why you feel A when B happens is extremely comforting and empowering. " Courtney says. 

For Courtney the standing and slightly upright versions of footwork at the Cadillac, Chair or the Reformer felt best for her. The variations she feels are endless and she got very creative while maintaining the classic intent of the movement. "With these varied footwork approaches I am able to focus on alignment and joints as tendons and ligaments loosen while finding stability in joints and drawing in and up of my pelvic floor and other stabilizers. This has been my biggest focus"

Courtney has done her Pilates practice daily. She always tries to embody what she teaches her clients which is practicing the movements in a structured session is only as good as your desire to translate these concepts of movement into your daily routine. "Every day movements are a part of my Pilates practice, everything from bending over at the dishwasher to entering/exiting my car. This was true before pregnancy but, especially now because of all that shifting and changing in my body I have to take care not to recruit or over use certain muscles, keeping movements balanced and spine aligned takes even more focus.

Courtney firmly believes her Pilates practice has helped and welcomes anyone to see her at the studio for more exploration of these concepts.

Then we have Amanda, who was in the same training class as Courtney and Kale, she is our newest instructor and  she is due in November. We love to joke on something was in their water for sure!

Amanda did Pilates for a few years before deciding she wanted to go through the Teacher Training and become an instructor. As her pregnancy has progressed she has realized that she is not able to do heavy core workouts like before but, still finds Pilates challenging and she loves to be challenged. "It's fun to learn new exercises to suit my changing body"

She finds while pregnancy heightens her awareness of each exercise it has challenged her to work with being more in tune with her body. She works out with her instructor once a week and then practices her own workout at least once a week but, shoots for at least 3 times a week.

"The Mermaid has become one of my favorites, such a wonderful stretch right now and it's been fun expanding my knowledge on all the exercises for the arms and legs" she says. " I absolutely believe that Pilates has helped me"

Lastly, we have Amber who had just started Pilates before becoming pregnant. She has found that as her body has changed and her pregnancy has progressed that she had to start modifying as well.

"Pilates has kept me aware of my body and the changes it is going through. I think if I hadn't been practicing Pilates I might not have noticed the changes when I did."

Amber has found that Pilates has been a great help with back issues she started having. The stretching and strengthening has helped her keep up her daily routine and activities. The exercises that stretch and open her chest and hips have been the most helpful for her. She also believes it has helped her mentally as well as physically.

Amber does her own practice 3-4 times a week as walking 2 miles.

Stay tuned later for how these instructors got back into their bodies after baby. What had changed, what they needed to focus on and how Pilates helped with that journey.