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

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

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    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.

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