The importance of regular exercise is to maintain our physical and mental health, this is well known by all. Before, during and after pregnancy these benefits are just as important to ensure the body is at its optimum to support the body throughout pregnancy, labour and during postnatal recovery.
Core strength in particular, before and during pregnancy, is likely decrease the instance of back pain and other symptoms of discomfort.
With the average labour taking 12 to 16 hours, maintaining a certain level of fitness throughout pregnancy ‘may’ result in an easier labour, with the potential to be shorter and require less intervention. Maintaining your fitness during pregnancy may also speed up postnatal recovery, helping make the transition back to higher intensity exercise after the pregnancy much easier. Also, the labour can be a very physically demanding experience. Cardiovascular fitness and strength can assist mothers endure their labour with more ease.
There are many changes that occur in the body during pregnancy which can be aided by Pilates/regular exercise including:
- Improved muscular tone and strength
Hormonal changes during pregnancy effect muscular strength and laxity of the joints around the hips. Pilates focuses on strengthening muscles around the pelvis and spine can assist to maintain muscular strength around the rest of the body.
- Increased self esteem:
Pregnancy can be a mentally demanding time. The bodily changes and the increase in size can affect your self-esteem. Pilates can provide a way to mix with the general public and feel a sense of belonging.
- Increased sense of well being:
Pilates assists the expecting mother to feel that she is doing the best for herself as well as her growing baby.
- Heightened body awareness:
By moving her body, the expecting mother can become more in tune with changes that are occurring throughout pregnancy.
- Provides a rest and relieves stress:
Pregnancy can be a mentally challenging and worrying time. Pilates courses can provide a mental break.
Benefits of exercise Postnatally
- During the birth of the certain areas of the body come under significant strain. Pilates can assist the healing of traumatised uterine, abdominal and pelvic muscles and hastens a return to normal muscle tone
- Due to the focus of Pilates often being on muscles that attach around the spine and pelvic area, Pilates can help “vulnerable” joints associated with hormone release during pregnancy, return to normal and prevent further weakening and strain.
- Participating in Pilates and other types of exercise post pregnancy promotes positive psychological benefits, improving coping mechanisms with stress and minimises the onset of post natal depression.
With all this in mind it is difficult not to find a reason to start participating in some form of exercise if you considering taking the plunge into parenthood.