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The Benefits of Prenatal Pilates

Are you a mum to be looking to join a wonderful and supportive group of other new mums on your very special journey? Then you might want to consider joining my prenatal pilates class. It is by far and away one of my most favourite groups to teach - nothing beats that email from mum, with the photo of her new treasure; I consider it a great honor to have played a small part in helping that process along.

So why prenatal pilates?

Prenatal pilates is an ideal form of exercise to help keep you fit, healthy and confident throughout your pregnancy journey. In the same way as a 'normal' pilates class would, prenatal pilates will teach you how to safely recruit your deep core muscles to help support and protect your joints, which become more ‘lax’ due to the presence of the pregnancy homone relaxin.

Released in the very early stages of pregnancy (around week 2), relaxin works to relax your joints and ligaments in preparation for the baby’s delivery and can be present in the body for up to 9 months after the birth, which can leave key joint structures like the spine and pelvis at risk of misalignment and imbalances if they don’t have the required strength to counteract this;

as a result stretching and mobility work is carefully balanced by strengthening and stability work, with extra care and guidance given.

Of particular focus in pregnancy pilates are exercises that teach you to strengthen and tone your pelvic floor muscles (which are put under a significant amount of pressure as your baby grows and engages downwards on your PFM), whilst specific breathing and relaxation techniques will teach you how to relax them to assist with labour. The specific pelvic floor exercises you learn will be of huge benefit, not just during pregnancy but throughout life. In pilates, your pelvic floor muscles are counted as part of your 'core,' which work with your abdominals, your diaphragm and your multifidus (a set of deep spinal extensors), to give you spinal (core) stability, promote good breathing (which boosts circulation, improves digestion and keeps you calm), improves posture and helps maintain safe alignment of joints and their soft tissue.

All of my prenatal clients are given a handy how to guide of pelvic floor exercises so as they can continue to practice outside of class. If you've never really worked your pelvic floor muscles before, it can definitely feel strange and it does take a while to get used to the sensations of gradually contracting and releasing your PFM, but it is so worth it and I would encourage anyone - male or female - to do work here to future proof your body; your PFM support all of your internal organs and like every other muscle in your body, if you don't use it, you lose it.

As your baby grows, your spine will change to accommodate - this can often lead to aches and pain in places like your low back, your pelvis, your shoulders and neck because your centre of gravity is shifting the whole time. However, pilates will teach you how to become more aware of these changes and how to adapt posturally so as you are maintaining safe alignment throughout pregnancy and your joints are protected thus helping to offset those aches and pains.

In prenatal pilates we use specific breathing and relaxation techniques to help keep you calm and rested and to help promote an overall sense of positive wellbeing. This makes pilates the ideal method to help keep your body and mind in balance throughout your pregnancy.

Class numbers are kept to a maximum of 6 to ensure a safe and effective practice. Careful consideration is always given to each individual throughout the session with modifications and alternative exercises are given where necessary.

All participants must complete either a pre natal PAR-Q health questionnaire in advance of joining the class and must have been given permission from their GP / medical practitioner to participate in class.

Prenatal class: From 16 weeks – Full term

As long as medical clearance has been given and there are no contraindications present. Medical permission should also be sought at regular intervals throughout pregnancy.

I have an Active IQ Level 3 Pilates for Pregnancy (pre and postnatal) qualification gained through Body Control Pilates in London.

If you have any questions or would like to book a space please email me at all classes are running online via Zoom.

I hope to see you on the mat soon,

Love Julie x

P.S. You can read more about the other benefits of pilates on a recent Instagram post I wrote about just that. Just click here.

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