During pregnancy, the female body experiences major changes in a relatively small period of time. Pilates is one of the most effective ways to support these changes and optimise the body’s ability to adapt and recover after birth. Provided you have the tick of approval from your GP or obstetrician, it is safe to continue with pre-natal Pilates up until 40 weeks, under the guidance of your osteopath or health care professional.

 

CSSM osteopath Nicole Owen-Tighe looks at everything you need to know about antenatal and post-natal pilates.

 

So, what are the benefits of Antenatal and Post-natal Pilates?

 

REDUCE LOW BACK AND PELVIC PAIN
During pregnancy, the body releases a hormone called Relaxin, that causes the ligaments in the pelvis to stretch not only in preparation for childbirth itself, but for the postural changes that occur as the baby grows. This means these structures are more flexible, hence more susceptible to straining which often causes pain and discomfort. Strengthening your core and gluteal muscles in Pilates will help to oppose this increase in ligamentous laxity, and reduce the likelihood of lumbo-pelvic and sacroiliac instability and therefore decrease pain.

 

STRENGTHEN YOUR PELVIC FLOOR
The extra weight of the baby in addition to hormonal changes can weaken the pelvic floor muscles that support the bladder, bowel and uterus. Maintaining pelvic floor strength can reduce the risk of incontinence and prolapse after pregnancy. It is important to keep in mind that your pelvic floor muscles tend to weaken with age and after each pregnancy. These muscles are difficult to isolate and contract correctly. Your Osteopath can assist you in correctly coordinating your abdominal muscles and activating your pelvic floor to ensure you are benefiting from your exercise regime. 

 

MAINTAIN HEALTHY WEIGHT
It is normal for mums-to-be to gain weight throughout a pregnancy however, gaining excessive weight in combination with having a sedentary lifestyle can increase a woman’s risk of developing gestational diabetes.  Participating in regular exercise has numerous health benefits including but not limited to, preventing excessive weight gain, relieving stress, improving confidence, body image and overall mental health.

 

REDUCE DIASTASIS RECTI (ABDOMINAL SEPERATION)
The Linea Alba is the connective tissue in between the left and right side of our rectus abdominis muscle. During pregnancy, this muscle gets stretched and weakened which creates a palpable and sometimes visible ‘gap’ in our midline. There are certain factors that may increase the risk in developing Diastasis Recti, such as having a petite figure, carrying twins or triplets and have poor core strength, however all women are at risk! Approximately 60% of pregnant women will experience Diastasis Recti for up to 6 weeks-post-partum and 30% after 12 months. Postpartum, it is important to work on strengthening all muscles of the abdominal cavity that include rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, pelvic floor, diaphragm and multifidus to speed up your recovery.

 

IMPROVE BALANCE AND POSTURE
As you enter the later stages of your pregnancy your weight distribution will shift and your centre of gravity translates forwards, leaving some mums to feel unstable or clumsy. Pilates helps to promote postural awareness and improve balance. It will also help to support you with lifting, feeding and bathing your new-born. These activities can cause tension to build up in the thoracic cage, neck and shoulders which can present as pain, postural fatigue and headaches.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
Antenatal and Post-natal Pilates at CSSM is supervised by Osteopath’s who have a special interest in women’s health. Our team are all trained experts with special knowledge in delivering safe, effective, and evidence-based classes to assist you through your pregnancy and recovery. Please feel free to contact our friendly reception team for further information on (03) 9889 1078, or email us at info@cssm.com.au

 

About the author

Nicole Owen-Tighe is an Osteopath who enjoys helping patients overcome challenges and understand their pain through education, empowering and motivating them to take the steps necessary to become healthier and happier.

Nicole is also interested in pre/post-natal treatment, along with pilates in the rehabilitation and management of these patients.

 


REFERENCES:

Hu, X., Ma, M., Zhao, X., Sun, W., Liu, Y., Zheng, Z., & Xu, L. (2020). Effects of exercise therapy for pregnancy-related low back pain and pelvic pain: A protocol for systematic review and meta-analysis. Medicine, 99(3), e17318. https://doi.org/10.1097/MD.0000000000017318

North West Physiotherapy. 2020. Abdominal Separation: What is Diastasis Recti? Retrieved from https://northwestphysio.com.au/abdominal-separation-what-is-diastasis-recti/

Oktaviani I. (2018). Pilates workouts can reduce pain in pregnant women. Complementary therapies in clinical practice, 31, 349351. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.c

Thabet, A. A., & Alshehri, M. A. (2019). Efficacy of deep core stability exercise program in postpartum women with diastasis recti abdominis: a randomised controlled trial. Journal of musculoskeletal & neuronal interactions, 19(1), 6268.