I have been fortunate in having two successful pregnancies and now have my children, 5 year old Ella-Rose and 2 year old Hugo. I did Pilates throughout both my pregnancies and on going. So I just wanted to share how it helped me as well as how it has changed my teaching in these classes based on my own personal experience.
I loved teaching Pregnancy Pilates and mum and baby Pilates before I had children but didn’t feel really confident or authentic in my delivery of teaching the breathing during labour and also pelvic floor release work. After having children and practising it myself for both labours, it helped massively during the birth of my two children.
During my pregnancies I did notice the postural changes that I could easily have adopted if I didn’t focus on my posture and core strength. The classic over curving/lordosis in your lower back as baby grows and also the tension put on the upper back as your chest grows and the body is trying to adapt to the changes happening. I felt my hips feeling tighter.
I loved staying toned in the areas that I could and strong. My Pilates routine included doing squats and lunges and exercises to strengthen the inner thighs and help stabilise the pelvis. It was great to be able to do the side lying leg exercises, which helped with pelvic stability and strengthening the glutes as well as stretching out the legs and hips. I could keep my legs, hips and arms upper back and shoulders looking toned and strong which was nice as I did feel like I was ballooning sometimes. I was able to do Pilates all the way up to delivery and during delivery.
I am prone to back ache from an injury in my twenties and it’s a way of life to do Pilates as if I stop I get pain. It’s really reassuring and empowering whether pregnant or not, to have an exercise that helps stretch out your body, mobilise and ease back pain. I did feel back pain during my pregnancies but I would do some Pilates moves and the pain would go. I was able to do slow jogging up to 5 months into my pregnancy, as through Pilates, I felt really strong and fit.
I also practised the breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth. Combined with sitting in positions which are best to help with pelvic floor release and where gravity assists in helping baby move down the birth canal. I make sure I teach this in class (pregnancy pilates in Clapham) so ladies will feel confident to do the deep breathing and know how it feels to release the pelvic floor. The last thing you want during labour is a pelvic floor that’s so tight, it won’t relax and release easily. We can tighten after birth!!
My first labour took a little longer as I was at 2 cm dilated for 12 hours and felt I had full on contractions. I have to say Pethidine did seem my friend at that point and was amazing, even though I was not going to have it based on what I had learnt from my NCT classes. You just have what ever help is necessary if you need a little break and gas and air wasn’t an option until I was admitted to hospital. I wasn’t admitted til I was 5 cms. Instead of being sent home a second time the nurses kindly let me stay in the induction ward. This was just as well. I suddenly dilated from 4-10 after having a bath and active labour was 45 minutes and Ella-Rose was born. Glad I didn’t go home a second time!!
Second baby I felt period pain and he was born via water birth and it was 4 hours from start to finish so more intense but I am so glad again that I did the pelvic floor release work and breathing and movements to help through out. It made labour manageable. I had no gas or air or Pethidine during the second labour although I would have had it. No time for that, as we arrived at the hospital around 10:20pm and Hugo was born 11.10pm. It all happened very quickly. I was so happy to have the chance to have a water birth. Hugo loves baby swimming. Maybe this is why..
Anyway, An amazing experience and definitely a good pain relief too. (by the way I recommend www.waterlifeswimschool.com for baby swimming)
So from all of this, the movements I did in the birthing center during labour helped ease back tension and the breathing and pelvic floor work really helped in delivery of my babies. In Pregnancy Pilates classes we go over the breathing and different positions to feel your pelvic floor release. Also, from doing all the squats I felt strong to stand when needed and kneel, which definitely helped gravity aid baby be delivered more smoothly.
My babies were different sizes 6.5lb for Ella-Rose and Hugo was 8.4lbs. I had no tears very luckily and again I think that’s luck but also pelvic floor release once again.
I love helping other mums to be, in the pregnancy Pilates classes and also 1:1 sessions and feel Pilates is invaluable in staying healthy fit and strong as well as feeling really good during your Pregnancy.
Whether that’s with myself or with someone closer to you in location or convenient time. It is also a great introduction to Pilates if you have never done it before. Ladies often go on to do mum and baby classes so it’s a really nice bond you get with other new mum’s as well and connections you make all sharing the experience.
Not to mention, the relaxation you get from the stretching and mobility. Lastly, you guessed it, tightening pelvic floor post baby!!
I hope by sharing my experience offers others some useful information about Pregnancy Pilates and the benefits. Xx