Pilates and pregnancy

Pilates is a type of exercise that will work your muscles and improve your flexibility without putting too much strain on your joints.

The aim of Pilates is to improve balance, strength, flexibility and posture. Like yoga, it uses breathing techniques as part of the exercises.

What is Pilates?

Pilates is a low-impact (no jumping around) way of being active that aims to improve your posture and movement.

It is usually done on a mat, but you can also use special equipment that has been designed to work on different muscles.

What are the benefits of Pilates during pregnancy?

There is little research on the benefits of pregnancy Pilates - but it could help prevent aches and pains while you’re expecting.

It strengthens and stretches your core muscles and could help your body cope with carrying the extra weight of your growing baby, as well as preparing you for childbirth and recovery afterwards.

Pilates often focusses on strengthening your pelvic floor, which is important for labour and recovery after birth. A strong pelvic floor can also help you avoid wetting yourself by accident when you cough, sneeze or exercise. Try these pelvic floor exercises.

How can I make sure Pilates is safe for me in pregnancy?

Be careful not to over-exert yourself or stretch too much. And once you get to 16 weeks pregnant, avoid exercises where you lie on your back.

As there’s not a lot of research on pregnancy Pilates, make sure you look for a specific pregnancy class or a one-to-one teacher who is trained to work with pregnant women.

When choosing a class, make sure the teacher is qualified and tell them how many weeks pregnant you are.

A teacher who is qualified to work with pregnant women should be able to adapt the exercises to suit your changing body at each stage of your pregnancy.

If you already do non-pregnancy Pilates classes, tell your teacher you’re pregnant. Your teacher may be trained to work with women during pregnancy or might suggest a pregnancy class that would be better for you.

As with all exercise during pregnancy, if you feel any pain it’s important to stop straight away.

Download and print your weekly exercise goal plan

More about exercise in pregnancy

  • Top angle view of woman holding baby pump, sat on yoga mat.

    Blog

    Pregnancy yoga at home with The Yoga Midwife

    Yoga is a great way to stay active and look after your wellbeing during and after pregnancy. There are some brilliant tutorials you can access online, just make sure they are specialised for pregnancy. The Yoga Midwife takes us through some simple poses to get you started.

  • Graphic of woman walking

    Blog

    Staying active during the coronavirus pandemic

    We are all trying to cope with changes to our routine, including how we eat and exercise to look after ourselves. The important thing is trying to be as active as you can, without comparing yourself to others.

  • Image of pregnant woman exercising on her back on an exercise mat

    Blog

    Simple, at-home workouts from Bumps and Burpees

    Pregnancy-safe, at-home workouts with no equipment needed! We asked Charlie, founder of Bumps and Burpees and personal trainer qualified in pre & post natal training to provide some simple exercises to do at home.

  • Woman stretching at desk.

    5 easy office exercises to do when you’re pregnant

    Stuck at your desk feeling uncomfortable and achy? Have a go at our simple pregnancy excises - you don’t even need to leave your desk.

  • A photo of a women sat down stretching her legs before exercising.

    Making a plan for exercising in pregnancy

    Many people find it helps to set exercise goals to help them stay fit during pregnancy.

  • Large pregnant woman swimming.

    I'm overweight. What exercise can I do during pregnancy?

    Most types of exercise are fine even if you are overweight. Being active during your pregnancy is safe and healthy for you and your baby.

  • Pregnant woman with yoga mat and water bottle in park.

    Can I exercise with SPD/PGP?

    Symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD), also known as pelvic girdle pain (PGP), is a fairly common pregnancy condition. It is caused by the way pelvic joints move during pregnancy. It can make exercise more difficult but there are things you can do.

  • Pregnant woman on cross-trainer.

    Is it safe to exercise in pregnancy?

    Yes it is. In fact, if your pregnancy is uncomplicated, it is safer to exercise than not to as it brings down the risk of gestational diabetes and high blood pressure.

  • 'FAQ' written in pink chalk on black board.

    Exercise FAQs

    Frequently asked questions about exercise in pregnancy, including what exercises to try and which ones to avoid.

  • Pregnant woman doing pelvic floor exercises.

    Pelvic floor exercises

    Doing pelvic floor exercises regularly will help prevent you accidentally leaking wee when you cough or strain, both during your pregnancy and after your baby is born.

  • Pregnant woman on exercise ball.

    An easy pregnancy workout

    These simple pregnancy-friendly exercises don’t take very long to do and you can fit them into your everyday life, at work or at home.

  • Woman in late stages of pregnancy.

    When to stop exercising in pregnancy

    If you're having an uncomplicated pregnancy you are safe to stay active comfortably right up to the end of your pregnancy.

Sources

  1. NHS Choices. A guide to pilates. http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/fitness/Pages/pilates.aspx (Page last reviewed: 11/05/2018. Next review due: 11/05/2021)
  2. Nascimento SL, Surita FG, Cecatti JG (2012). Physical exercise during pregnancy: a systematic review. Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology, 24 (6): 387–94. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23014142 
  3. RCOG (2006). Recreational Exercise and Pregnancy: Information for you, London, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/patients/patient-information-leaflets/pregnancy/recreational-exercise-and-pregnancy.pdf 
  4. RCM (2008). Pilates and pregnancy. London, Royal College of Midwives. https://www.rcm.org.uk/news-views-and-analysis/analysis/pilates-and-pregnancy 
Hide details

    Last reviewed on July 31st, 2018. Next review date July 31st, 2021.

    Was this information useful?

    Yes No

    Comments

    Please note that these comments are monitored but not answered by Tommy’s. Please call your GP or maternity unit if you have concerns about your health or your baby’s health.

    Your comment

    Add new comment