Effect of Pilates performed during pregnancy on postpartum stress urinary incontinence in primipara women

by Elif Urer, Nurten Ozen, Fusun Terzioglu
Published:April 19, 2023 DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbmt.2023.04.022

Link to full article and detailed methodology/results: https://www.bodyworkmovementtherapies.com/article/S1360-8592(23)00037-2/fulltext


  • Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) is to be more common after vaginal birth.
  • Pilates method is the most known exercise for baby and mother.
  • There are very limited studies on the occurrence of SUI in pilates in the literature.
  • Pilates can reduced SUI at the postpartum period.


Pregnancy and childbirth increase the risk of urinary incontinence (UI), specifically stress urinary incontinence (SUI). SUI, characterised by involuntary urine leakage, is common during and after pregnancy, affecting women’s quality of life. The prevalence of UI during pregnancy ranges from 17% to 54%, with postpartum SUI occurring in 10.1% to 38.3% of cases.

Factors like increased uterine weight, bladder pressure, and weak pelvic floor muscles contribute to postpartum SUI. Pelvic floor exercises, particularly Pilates, are recommended to prevent and treat SUI as Pilates strengthens the pelvic floor muscles, supporting the bladder and preventing SUI. However, there are limited studies on Pilates’ specific impact on SUI prevention. The objective of the mentioned study is to evaluate Pilates’ effect in preventing postpartum SUI.

A retrospective case-control study was conducted in a private hospital. Participants consisted of patients who gave birth vaginally at the hospital and were admitted to the hospital for routine control at the postpartum 12th week. The women did Pilates for two days a week from the 12th week of pregnancy until the birth were included in the case group. The women did not do Pilates in the control group. Data was collected using the “Michigan Incontinence Symptom Index”. To detect the presence of SUI, researchers asked women “Do you have urinary incontinence problems in your daily life?”. STROBE research check-list was used for reporting the study.

The study was completed with a total of 142 women consisting of 71 women in each group. Of the women, postpartum SUI occurred in 39.4%. The severity score of women who did Pilates were found to be statistically significantly lower than those who did not do Pilates.

During pregnancy, women should be encouraged by health professionals to do Pilates about the prenatal period.

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