Exercising during your pregnancy helps keep you and your baby healthy. Certain exercises can also help you prepare for labor, such as Pilates. Developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century, Pilates strengthens your core, or the abdominal, back and pelvic muscles, which can become weak during pregnancy. While most Pilates exercises are safe for pregnancy, a number are not. You should talk to your doctor before beginning a Pilates class and make sure your instructor understands that you are pregnant.
Prenatal Mat Pilates
Pilates classes designed specifically for pregnant women are available in some areas. A prenatal class will most likely run at a slower pace than a regular class and will not include certain exercises that can harm you and your baby. After your 20th week of pregnancy, you should avoid exercises that involve lying flat on your back, as a number of traditional Pilates exercises do. During a prenatal mat class, you will most likely do most exercises lying on your side. Your mat class may also make use of props such as a stability ball, roller or magic circle to further help strengthen your core muscles.
Prenatal Reformer Pilates
Using the Pilates Reformer when pregnant can help improve your posture, according to Kim Krauhsar, a certified Pilates instructor. Exercises on a Reformer help to counterbalance the added weight of the baby by realigning your spine to its natural position. The machine can also provide extra support for your body so that you can perform certain exercises safely even while pregnant. Look for a class taught by an instructor who is both certified in Pilates and experienced in working with pregnant women. Reformer classes typically cost more than mat classes.
Other Prenatal Options
If you cannot find a prenatal Pilates class in your area or one that meets when you are able to attend, you can attempt to take a regular class. Before attending the class, inform the instructor that you are pregnant. She may be able to tailor the exercises to suit you or may suggest that you hold off on taking her class. You should also consider private instruction if no prenatal classes are available or if you have not done Pilates previously. Hiring a private teacher will cost substantially more than taking a group class, but some instructors recommend it, especially if you are just starting on the Reformer.