Pilates and Pregnancy: Michelle J


I would highly recommend Pilates to anyone, but it’s particularly important leading up to, during, and after pregnancy for the following reasons:

1) Less pain and discomfort because skeletal imbalances. Pilates emphasizes working your body in the correct align meant, or working towards bringing you into alignment. This definitely helps prevent common pregnancy aches and pains. I was constantly conscious of trying to work against the lordosis that usually occurs in the lower back during my pregnancy and engage my core to bring myself back to a more neutral alignment.

2) Less chance of diastasis recti because of the focus on strengthening transversus abdominis. This is a common side effect of pregnancy when the two halves of the rectus abdominis separate as a result of over stretching. When this deepest layer of your core (like an internal corset)  is strong and you are mentally connected to how it works, you are better protected from having diastasis recti because you know how to move and use these muscles properly.

3) Pelvic floor, pelvic floor, pelvic floor!  These muscles are SO important during pregnancy, labour, and recovery.  Pilates teaches you how to use these muscles, and they are important in two ways during this time. You need strong pelvic floor muscles to support the growing weight of your baby during pregnancy. Equally important is the ability to relax these muscles during delivery ….trust me! Pilates teaches you an awareness of the pelvic floor that is invaluable.

- Special considerations for the pregnant client:

Again, strengthening and awareness of the pelvic floor muscles and transversus is key. By the time the client reaches the 5th or 6th month, it’s important to avoid exercises that put too much emphasis on flexion or where the torso or specifically abdominals have to work against gravity to prevent diastasis recti. So - traditional ab crunches or roll ups, or rollbacks are out, as are planks and regular push-ups. Push ups can be modified to be done against a wall or slightly elevated. Another concern is the possibility of supine hypotensive syndrome in some pregnant women - where the weight of the baby can compress the inferior vena cava when the mother is lying on her back. This can potentially slow blood flow back to the mother’s heart, which in turn will reduce blood and oxygen flow to the fetus. Because this is potentially dangerous, it is best to avoid working in a supine position by the end of the second trimester. But in both cases, it does depend on the individual.

- Other resources (websites)/best studios in Toronto to train at:

I did my Pilates teacher training at Stott Pilates and also a specialized Prenatal Reformer workshop there - luckily just before I found out I was pregnant.  I find the Instructor Trainers at Stott to be very knowledgeable when it comes to a variety of specialized cases such as pregnancy or injuries. I teach at Misfit Studio on Queen St. West and the owner, Amber Joliat, is a Pilates and yoga instructor who has a great understanding of movement and anatomy, and she is a wonderful teacher.  We also offer Eccentrics at Misfit Studio and I found that to be a great workout during my pregnancy, as much of it is done standing and provides a great amount of stretch and release for muscles and joints that are a little overburdened during that time.