Being active during pregnancy reduces the pain experienced during childbirth and helps you get back to full fitness faster after postpartum.
This set of specialized exercises was developed by Joseph Hubertus Pilates, who struggled with health problems since childhood. Initially, his workouts were used by dancers to treat numerous injuries and traumas and to work on strengthening weakened muscles. The Pilates exercise method is based on building body awareness. Using a combination of specific movements, the athlete has a chance to fully learn the behavior of his body, strengthen muscles, stretch and control breathing. Regularly performed Pilates training reduces pain in the spine and joints, develops the muscles of the pelvic floor, diaphragm or multifidus, as well as increases lung capacity and facilitates breathing. Pilates exercises are based on 8 fundamental principles, such as breath, control, fluidity, precision or concentration, the implementation of which helps develop and strengthen the entire body.
Depending on the athlete’s ability and desire, Pilates can be done in a gym with a group and instructor or on your own at home. Over the past year, exercises with a virtual instructor have become very popular, so it is becoming increasingly easy to purchase access to an online pilates course. Standard classes for pregnant women should last from 45 minutes to an hour maximum. Each of the presented exercises should be repeated 8-10 times and take into account at each stage the mood and abilities of the pregnant participant.
Pilates during pregnancy primarily helps to activate and strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor, diaphragm or abdomen, to develop proper breathing control, and to relieve pain in the spine and joints. The presence of the baby, the growing belly and the current well-being of the future mother is crucial for the proper course of the trainings, therefore any discomfort or ailments should be immediately reported. During the advanced stage of pregnancy Pilates helps to relax the whole body, relax tired muscles and give relief from pain.
Physical activity helps prepare the body for a strong effort, which will be the birth. With regular exercise, a woman can significantly reduce pain, shorten the time of delivery, speed up recovery time and feel more confident in the delivery room. The gynecological ward often uses gymnastic balls – the same as those used during classical Pilates training. A pregnant woman who has already done exercises with a ball will find it easier and more comfortable to use hospital equipment. The exercises on the ball are used to relax the pelvic floor muscles, dilate the cervix and induce rapid labour.
Before deciding to enroll in a professional Pilates course, it’s a good idea to try some simple exercises on your own at home and see if they are comfortable. Sample workouts can easily be found for free on the YouTube platform. Among the simple home exercises ideal for pregnant women is pelvic floor muscle activation. To perform this exercise, sit up straight on a ball or chair and while inhaling, relax your pelvic muscles and while exhaling, tighten them. The reason for this movement is to make the perineal muscles more flexible, and as a result, to make them work harder and make pushing easier. One of the basic movements is also learning to breathe properly. The expectant mother should regularly practice breathing in through her nose and out through her mouth in order to properly oxygenate her body and the baby. Proper breathing helps reduce the pain felt during natural childbirth and the risk of baby being hypoxic during pelvic contractions.
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