How do you promote Pilates for mums-to-be or new mums?
New PAA member, Laila, shares her thoughts on why the Powerhouse and Pregnancy are the perfect match.
Pilates is a perfect match for pregnancy. There are many reasons why Pilates is such a great movement practice for all women. Not only do you get the benefits of mindfulness and that rare chance to take some time for yourself, but Pilates can also help enhance women’s health, especially around pregnancy.
Pilates focuses on the “powerhouse,” which promotes the incorporation of the entire core musculature, including the pelvic floor, into the functional movements of the Pilates repertoire. The value of Pilates taught with this focus extends beyond the exercise session into daily life and general wellbeing.
When we find our bodies changing, it is great to have a familiar framework to help navigate these changes. Pilates gives a clear and simple structure to learn, practice, and fine-tune the control of your powerhouse. With Pilates, you increase your pelvic floor awareness, learn how to stabilise through your core (powerhouse) and how to regulate intra-abdominal pressure.
The powerhouse supports the changes to women’s bodies during pregnancy, strengthening all sides of the body from the ribs to the hip line. Pilates also offers low-impact exercises that can be tailored to the bodies evolving needs during and after pregnancy, ensuring women exercise safely.
Pilates can provide relief for many conditions that women may experience during pregnancy, including back pain, pelvic girdle pain, and abdominal separation (diastasis recti). In addition, Pilates is a safe method of exercise that is well suited to operate within the individual guidelines reached in conjunction with a woman’s medical and or allied health team*. Remember, that in addition to following PAA recommendations (see below) it is important to maintain an open dialogue with your client as well as liaising directly with their health team.
It is estimated that one in every five women experiences some degree of pelvic girdle pain, or pubic symphysis dysfunction, during pregnancy. Expert Pilates instruction** can help to minimise the symptoms of these conditions and may also decrease the chances of pregnancy complications such as pre-eclampsia and pregnancy-induced hypertension.
It is indicated that early adoption of pelvic floor muscle exercises during pregnancy leads to easier and quicker reduction of symptoms of stress urinary incontinence. In addition, Pilates’ focus on this muscle group helps build awareness and function at every stage of pregnancy and beyond.
Pilates following pregnancy focuses on the recovery of strength, endurance, and function of the pelvic and abdominal muscles. Attention to chest mobility and pelvic stability in Pilates practice also provides additional care to the continuing demands on the new mother’s body.
Consequently, applying these safe and important Pilates exercises for mums-to-be and new mums constitutes an excellent addition for women during and after pregnancy and their health journey in general.
PAA Studio Instructor Member, LJ Pilates and InSync Physiotherapy & Pilates
*The PAA recommends that teachers consult with the client’s health practitioner/s immediately after the initial consult and throughout the pre-and post-natal period when working with pre-and post-natal women.
**When looking for professional development courses in the pre-and post-natal field, always check that the teacher has had specific women’s health training beyond their original Pilates certification or teaching experience. The PAA recommends that teachers offering training in pre/post-natal Pilates have a minimum sixteen hours of professional development in the field or be a specialist in women’s health through another qualification (PAA Approved workshops satisfy this requirement).
 Depledge, J., McNair, P. J., Keal-Smith, C., & Williams, M. (2005). Management of symphysis pubis dysfunction during pregnancy using exercise and pelvic support belts. Physical Therapy, 85(12), 1290-1300.
 NHS (2019). Pelvic pain in pregnancy. NHS, https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/related-conditions/common-symptoms/pelvic-pain/.
 Hay-Smith, J., Mørkved, S., Fairbrother, K. A., & Herbison, G. P. (2008). Pelvic floor muscle training for prevention and treatment of urinary and faecal incontinence in antenatal and postnatal women. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews, (4), CD007471. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD007471
Dinc, A., Kizilkaya Beji, N. & Yalcin, O. Effect of pelvic floor muscle exercises in the treatment of urinary incontinence during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Int Urogynecol J 20, 1223–1231 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00192-009-0929-3