BEFORE BECOMING PREGNANT

If you are planning on becoming pregnant you should begin to shift the focus of your Pilates and the way you are working-out in general to best prepare yourself for pregnancy.

WORKOUT GUIDELINES

  1. CARDIO FITNESSNow is the time to focus on getting cardio fit so you are in peak condition for your pregnancy. Pregnancy is not the time to decide start running or beginning HIIT – in the months leading up to when you fall pregnant is the ideal time for this type of training
  2. NO MORE 6 PACK TRAINING – We want to have the rectus – or 6 pack – turned off during pregnancy so focus should shift away from forward bending and begin to focus on deep core activation in neutral spine and pelvis

1st TRIMESTER

Many women do not find out they are pregnant until almost half way through their 1st trimester so it’s ok to continue with most forms of workouts and all exercise positions are 100% safe during this time.

WORKOUT GUIDELINES; (As soon as you do become aware of your pregnancy)

  1. AVOID ALL FLEXION OF THE SPINE/RECTUS TRAINING – This refers to all forward bending such as crunches, roll-up & down in supine position. We want to turn off this muscles as it pulls on the linea alba when engaged making your prenatal abdominal separation/diastasis recti worse and harder to repair when you are postnatal. Begin to become aware of how you get up and get down to workout on the mat – ensure it is safe way! 
  2. CORE STRENGTHENING – Begin to focus on deep core activation – emphasizing TVA and Pelvic Floor strengthening. Any exercise in which TVA engagement cannot be maintained will cause the rectus to bulge – this includes planking and toe tops in neutral should discontinue
  3. DO NOT OVER STRETCH - Relaxin will have begun to work on the joints of the body so you should now avoid over stretching, particularly muscles that attach to the pelvis and this can cause pain and joint damage. Only hold stretches for approximately 30secs and then repeat if necessary

Common complaints during the first trimester include:

  • exhaustion
  • acute sense of smell
  • dizziness and light-headedness
  • constant urination
  • nausea (this can continue for some women throughout their whole pregnancy.) 

Women generally feel anxious during the 1st trimester due to the risk of miscarriage but gentle, safe core activation – The Fundamental exercises - will send oxygen and increase the blood flow to the uterus, which aids in implantation.

SAFE POSITIONS

  • Supine - neutral spine and neutral pelvis
  • Side-lying
  • All fours
  • Standing
  • Seated
  • Prone – as long as you feel comfortable but DO NOT lie your stomach down on anything that puts pressure on belly such as a BOSU

prenatal exercise
2nd TRIMESTER

The 2nd trimester is often the easiest period during pregnancy. Mostly women feel a renewed surge of energy and nausea symptoms tend to subside.

It can be a time of great joy and heightened emotions as the hormones continue to flow and women begin to further connect with the growing baby inside of them.

WORKOUT GUIDELINES

  1. AVOID ALL FLEXION OF THE SPINE/RECTUS TRAINING – This refers to all forward bending such as crunches, roll-up & down in supine position. We want to turn off this muscles as it pulls on the linea alba when engaged making your prenatal abdominal separation/diastasis recti worse and harder to repair when you are postnatal. Begin to become aware of how you get up and get down to workout on the mat – ensure it is safe way! 
  2. CORE STRENGTHENING – Begin to focus on deep core activation – emphasizing TVA and Pelvic Floor strengthening. Any exercise in which TVA engagement cannot be maintained will cause the rectus to bulge – this includes planking and toe tops in neutral should discontinue
  3. STRENGTHEN POSTURAL MUSCLES OF THE UPPER BODY– As the baby and your breasts grow, the natural curves of your body are exaggerated, strengthening the opposing shoulder and back muscles will help counter these effects to keep you looking and feeling good
  4. STRENGTHENING AND TONING LOWER BODY – Strong legs and butt will support your pelvis which is becoming increasingly unstable as Relaxin builds in the body and growing uterus requires more support from below. Strong butt and hamstrings will help counter the effects of the increased low back curve as your center of gravity shifts to the front of the body
  5. LIMITED TIME IN SUPINE – As your baby grows, lying on your back can put pressure on your Vena Cava. General rule of thumb – no longer than 5minutes on your back, but listen to your body – if it feels wrong – change position!
  6. STOP UNILATERAL WORK – If you experience any Pubic bone pain or SI joint pain stop working one leg at a time and instead include bridging and squatting work to strengthen legs
  7. NO PRONE WORK – This refers to any work on your stomach. It will be uncomfortable and puts dangerous pressure on the growing uterus
  8. CONTINUE TO STRETCH - Deep butt muscles will begin to become locked as your pelvis widens so ensure you are always stretching these out at the beginning and end of workouts (piriformis stretch, pinky ball standing piriformis release). Other stretches to include – calf, hamstring, pec, neck
  9. CONTINUE WITH SAFE CARDIO – You should still be including regular cardio in your workout regime. Whether that is through standing Pilates and barre work, power walking, elliptical, swimming, light jogging & spinning, it remains important to work out your heart at a safe level to stay fit for the challenges of labor and beyond. CAUTION – ensure you remain hydrated at all times and do not overheat 
Common complaints during your 2nd trimester include; 
  • Some low back tightness and pain as the weight of the growing baby and relaxin continues to work on the joints particularly in the pelvis
  • You may feel rib pain due to the expansion of the rib cage as well as tight obliques and rectus, which are beginning to stretch -some gentle stretching in side bend, can relieve this pain
  • Some of you may also have swelling of the ankles and feet so doing foot work with the theraband and stretching out the calves can bring relief
SAFE POSITIONS
  • Supine - no longer than 5 mins
  • Side-lying – CAUTION – discontinue all unilateral work side lying if there is SI Joint or Pubic Bone pain.
  • All fours
  • Standing
  • Seated

prenatal exercise

Third Trimester

You are in the final stretch now! Hopefully if you have been working out safely and following the BodyLove Pilates guidelines you should be feeling strong and prepared for this next stage. 

For most the exhaustion of the first trimester returns and in general as your belly really begins to grow balance, breath and connection is really challenged. 

Listen to your body and do what feels good on that day – everyday in the third trimester is different.

WORKOUT GUIDELINES;

  1. REVERSE BREATHING TECHNIQUES – In the 1st and 2nd trimester it has been important to strengthen the Pelvic Floor Muscles so they are strong to support the growing baby and abdominal organs. Now that those muscles are strong you need to be able to use your exhale to release them for labor and the birth of your baby. Reverse breath pattern is – Inhale – Lift and engage PFM - Exhale – Fully release the PFM  - Reverse Breathing video
  2. PELVIC FLOOR STRETCHING – We have been training these muscles to be strong and supportive and this remains important but now we need to ensure they are also flexible to enable the birth of your baby! Include PFM stretching in every workout – building to daily stretching as you approach your labor in the final weeks of pregnancy
  3. AVOID ALL FLEXION OF THE SPINE/RECTUS TRAINING – This refers to all forward bending such as crunches, roll-up & down in supine position. We want to turn off this muscles as it pulls on the linea alba when engaged making your prenatal abdominal separation/diastasis recti worse and harder to repair when you are postnatal. Be aware of how you get up and get down to workout on the mat – ensure it is safe way! 
  4. CORE STRENGTHENING – Focus should be placed on deep core activation – emphasizing TVA and Pelvic Floor strengthening. Any exercise in which TVA engagement cannot be maintained will cause the rectus to bulge – this includes planking and toe tops in neutral should discontinue. The best core work you can do when pregnant are neutral seated breathing exercises -
  5. STRENGTHEN UPPER BODY POSTURAL MUSCLES – Posture is really challenged during this final stage of gestation. Spending time to stretch the tight muscles of the front of your body – pecs – and strengthening the mid/low back postural muscles goes a long way to countering the rounded forward of the body and will help you look and feel good until the end
  6. STRENGTHENING AND TONING LOWER BODY – Continuing to strengthen and tone the lower body remains super important. You need strong legs and glutes for labor, achieving natural childbirth positions is no easy activity. Maintaining strength in the low body will also continue to support the pelvis and growing baby.
  7. LIMITED TIME IN SUPINE – As your baby grows, lying on your back can put pressure on your Vena Cava. General rule of thumb – no longer than 5minutes on your back, but listen to your body – if it feels wrong – change position!
  8. STOP UNILATERAL WORK – If you experience any Pubic bone pain or SI joint pain stop working one leg at a time and instead include bridging and squatting work to strengthen legs
  9. NO PRONE WORK – This refers to any work on your stomach. It will be uncomfortable and puts dangerous pressure on the growing uterus.
  10. CONTINUE TO STRETCH - Deep butt muscles will begin to become locked as your pelvis widens so ensure you are always stretching these out at the beginning and end of workouts (butt stretch, pinky ball standing piriformis release). Other stretches to include – calf, hamstring, pec, neck
  11. CONTINUE WITH SAFE CARDIO – It remains important to stay active – cardio is a natural stress reliever and mood enhancer. As your baby continues to grow the diaphragm action lessens making it harder for you to breathe easily so only workout to your level. STOP if you’re feeling breathless - but this is normal and should pass when you slow down. Standing Pilates & Barre work, elliptical, power walking and swimming and good examples of safe cardio for this stage of your pregnancy

CAUTION – ensure you remain hydrated at all times and do not overheat.

Common Complaints during the 3rd trimester include;

  • Tightness in the low back as the baby grows causing compression of the low back – side bending and hamstring stretching can help with this
  • The SI joint becomes increasingly unstable as relaxin builds in your body so stretching the deep muscles of the butt and strengthening the outer hip can help
  • Increased fluid retention can result in further swelling of the feet, ankles and hands
  • As you reach full term the pressure on the pelvic floor has increased and unfortunately that means more visits to the bathroom
  • You can experience possible shortness of breath due to the decreased capacity of the diaphragm, which in turn can cause tightness in the auxiliary respiratory muscles such as the upper traps and neck muscles

SAFE POSITIONS

  • Supine - no longer than 5 mins
  • Side-lying – CAUTION – discontinue all unilateral work side lying if there is SI Joint or Pubic Bone pain.
  • All fours
  • Standing
  • Seated