By Chloe de Winter

Pilates is the most wonderful way to exercise in pregnancy! It really ticks all the boxes by focusing on building strength, endurance and stability around the right muscles to accommodate changes in your body that occur with growing a human.

But, safety first right!? As a physiotherapist and master Pilates instructor I know what’s important for you while exercising. So, here are the five most important things to know to ensure your Pilates practice is safe for you and your baby.

Trust your instructor

This is a special time in your life and your instructor needs to properly understand the physiological and anatomical changes occurring to keep you safe. Ensure they have adequate qualifications to teach prenatal Pilates – are they a physiotherapist? Have they done extensive training in prenatal fitness or women’s health? Or do they just have a large Instagram following?

Chloe De Winter is a physiotherapist and founder of Go Chlo Pilates.

Your trimester matters 

In your first trimester, it is completely safe for you to exercise as you were prior to pregnancy. Yep, that means planks, curl ups and jumping lunges are fine (if that’s your jam). After approximately 16 weeks, it’s time to adapt exercises. At this stage there are certain changes in your body including a growing belly, a stretch of the abdominal muscles and an expansion of the pelvis to make space for the growing bub. Your pilates exercises need to be adapted to respond to these changes.

Abdominal exercises are different now

Core and abdominal work are important in pregnancy, but they are different. Due to the *normal* stretch of your linea alba (the layer of tissue which extends down your abdomen) called diastasis rectus abdominus, it’s important to remove exercises that strongly activate through the rectus abdominis (your six pack muscle).

That means no abdominal crunches, roll downs and front planks, from the second trimester onwards. Instead, core exercises now focus on pelvic floor activation (kegels), deep belly contraction and abdominal stability exercises in kneeling or standing.

After approximately 16 weeks, it’s time to adapt exercises.

Pelvic floor, pelvic floor, did I mention the pelvic floor?

Pelvic floor exercises (kegels) should be included in your daily routine in pregnancy and should be integrated into Pilates. Your pelvic floor is the group of muscles that support the pelvic region – the bladder, bowel and uterus and assist with continence.

In pregnancy, these muscles weaken due to the increased downward pressure placed on them so it’s imperative to strengthen them! Incorporate a series of pelvic floor exercises into your Pilates practice.

Your pelvic floor is the group of muscles that support the pelvic region – the bladder, bowel and uterus and assist with continence.

If a movement doesn’t feel right, modify or stop

Pregnancy is no time to “push through the pain!” With the many changes occurring in your body, exercises that may have felt good before, might not anymore. Be mindful of any discomfort or pain around your sacrum (top of your butt), pubic symphysis (right at the front of your pelvis), or lower back. Talk to your instructor about ways to modify if needed, or just sit that exercise out.

Remember to trust your body and how you feel and if something doesn’t feel right, reach out to your doctor or physiotherapist.

If you’re ready to hit the mat, come try out Prenatal Pilates with me and I’ll guide you through!

If an exercise doesn’t feel right, stop doing it.

Chloe de Winter is a physiotherapist, Pilates instructor and founder of online Pilates platform, Go Chlo Pilates