Pilates & Pregnancy

“Almost any form of exercise is safe if it is done with caution and if you don’t do too much of it…..With its focus on healthy breathing and improving flexibility, a Pilates exercise program is a good way to improve posture and build muscle strength.” (Your Pregnancy and Birth, 4th Edition, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 2005).

Melinda Bryan’s Pilates Pregnancy Videos – Commentary By Melinda Bryan

Over the last fifteen years, I have worked very closely to develop fitness and rehabilitation programs for many of my pregnant clients.  In most cases, Pilates has been my # 1 choice of exercise, taking clients through their prenatal and postpartum periods. I have used these same programs in all three of my own pregnancies and have included the most important and effective exercises in my Pilates for Pregnancy & Pilates After Pregnancy videos.  I am sure you will find the programs easy to follow and most importantly, safe.

Though I have had many years of experience in developing fitness programs for pregnancy, I felt it was still important to do research before developing these videos and found that one concern some doctors had with exercise while pregnant was having pregnant women exercise in supine, or lying on your back. I could not find any significant data to substantiate any great risk of exercise supine if it is for a very short duration, and the "exerciser" continues to move and change position, unless of course it is uncomfortable.  In conversation with Dr. James Clapp, M.D., who has done extensive research involving pregnancy and exercise, author of Exercising Through Your Pregnancy, copyright 2002, he agreed that research continues regarding many issues, including this one. In fact, his preliminary studies indicate that most woman have no problem with exercise supine as long as it involves motion, and is comfortable.  He felt that motionless supine lying was where there was concern and recommended against it.  Since the Pilates for Pregnancy video is designed to take a woman through pregnancy, I have included many modifications for women that may be uncomfortable on their back for any reason and note important information in the pre-workout health warnings. Generally speaking, since many women start to feel less comfortable nearing the mid point of their pregnancy, the supine lying exercises may be modified.

Dr. Raul Artal, professor and chair of the Dept. of Ob-Gyn and Women's Health at St. Louis University School of Medicine, and ACOG advisor, has stated that "we have learned that women can enjoy a much broader range of physical activity during pregnancy than was previously thought."  ACOG recommendations have progressed over the years from "permitting" limited amounts of exercise during pregnancy, to the new ACOG exhortations that pregnant women "engage in 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise on most, if not all, days of the week."  It is important to point out that many pregnant women lie on their back while having sexual intercourse. In most cases a woman having intercourse on their back would be engaging in vigorous activity.  Many pregnant women also will sleep on their back without any problem.

 

Another clinical specialist, Elizabeth Noble, PT who has over 35 years of clinical experience states in her book, Essential Exercises for the Childbearing Year, "Ironically, the most vigorous exercise that many women will ever experience - labor- has been "managed" on the back for years!" She recommends that the few women who might experience light headedness limit exercises on the back for no more than 5 minutes at one time. In my video I have alternated positions from supine, to sitting, to side lying through the video to accommodate for this possibility.

 

I highly recommend that you check with your doctor before engaging in any exercise program.

 

 

Warning Signs When to Stop Exercise While Pregnant:

  • • Dizziness of faintness
  • • Increased shortness of breath
  • • Uneven or rapid heartbeat
  • • Chest pain
  • • Trouble walking
  • • Calf pain or swelling
  • • Headache
  • • Vaginal bleeding
  • • Uterine contractions that continue after rest
  • • Fluid gushing or leaking from the vagina
  • • Decreased fetal movement