How pilates can help you train and recover for pregnancy and labor.
Written by Ashley Haley
Disclaimer: I am not a marathon runner or any kind of runner for that matter (If you see me running, you should probably run as well because there is something terribly awful coming your way). With that being said, this past February my husband and I welcomed our first child, Maddux, into this world so the marathon of pregnancy and childbirth is something I can relate to.
The process of pregnancy and childbirth is a lot like running a marathon. Both require training and preparation of your body and mind for what lies ahead. The main event is both extremely challenging and physically demanding. Afterwards it is crucial to give the body time to recover and heal.
So, you’ve found out you’re expecting (congrats!!), now it is time to start your training. First, consult with your doctor, become more conscious of what you’re eating, increase water intake and cut out the wine (yeah I know this one can be a bummer), if you do not have a regular exercise or training program, research and find the best program that works for you. If you’re looking for an active program that will keep you safe and challenge you, Pilates may be the perfect solution!
All of our prenatal pilates classes incorporate the pilates reformer machine with the use of many other props in order to ensure correct alignment and safe transitions through movements. The reformer gives you a lot of options when it comes modifications for your changing body and energy levels. In each class, you will learn to access your pelvic floor, strengthen your core (to help reduce the risk of Diastasis Recti), glutes and legs, practice controlled breathing, work to improve balance, and reduce aches associated with pregnancy.
My goal is to help you feel physically prepared for labor and delivery and to help speed up recovery time postpartum.
Which leads us to race day - THE BIG DAY IS HERE! Remember, you’ve spent months preparing for this day. You know how to use the strength of the pelvic floor but also know when it’s time to release it. You’re legs and glutes are strong and ready for this marathon. You’re breath awareness is there. Even if in this moment you don’t feel prepared, you are!
When you cross that finish line you’re exhausted physically, mentally, and emotionally but the feeling of accomplishment you feel in that moment is unreal. You pushed yourself through the pain, tears, and self-doubt and now have an extremely cute and squishy baby to prove that you are, in fact, a rockstar!
Recovery is a necessity after your body has been through such a physically challenging event. Some marathon runners take up to 26 recovery days after running a marathon (or 1 day for every mile ran). After childbirth, doctors recommend a minimum of 6 weeks for recovery before returning to a regular exercise routine. Once you’ve been cleared to resume exercising, it is vital to remember your body has shifted, stretched, and been pushed to its limits. We will work through safe, functional movements to discover ways to be strong and confident within your “new” normal.
In postnatal Pilates, we emphasize slow, controlled movements helping to reconnecting with your body. We will gently and mindfully move through exercises with the intention of finding stability and muscle balance. We will also work to strengthen and rebuild the pelvic floor, rehabilitate and heal any core separation, improve posture, reduce anxiety and depression, and connect with other moms who are going through their own postpartum journey.
Remember that pregnancy isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. It takes time and we need to be mindful of our bodies and minds throughout each stage of the process. I think this proverb associated with with Aesop's fable of "The Tortoise and the Hare" describes this journey perfectly, “if you work slowly but constantly, you will succeed better than if you work fast for a short while and do not continue.”