Pilates strengthens your tummy, back and pelvic floor muscles without straining other joints, so it's a great exercise to do when you're pregnant. Some research suggests that doing pilates regularly can be as effective as doing pelvic floor exercises.
Check that your pilates instructor is experienced and trained in teaching pregnant women, and try to choose a pilates class that's for pregnant women.
The main benefit of pilates is that it targets the exact muscles and functions that can be a problem during pregnancy and after birth, in a safe way.
Doing regular pilates will help to:
- Strengthen your tummy muscles, which equips your body better to cope with the strains caused by the weight of your growing baby. Hormones make the tissues (ligaments) that connect your bones more pliable in pregnancy, making you more prone to injury.
- Reduces back pain, by exercising the deepest tummy muscles that stabilise your back and pelvis. Weak muscles can lead to back or pelvic pain.
- Strengthen your pelvic floor, which will help to support your bowel, bladder and uterus (womb) as your baby grows and moves down. This may prevent you from leaking small amounts of wee when you cough or sneeze.
- Helps with balance, as you may feel a little more clumsy, or that your balance isn’t as good as usual, in pregnancy. Pilates exercises strengthen your core and may make you more stable when you walk as your bump grows.
- Takes the strain off your back and pelvis, by using positions such as going on your hands and knees, which is a great position for pregnancy. Towards the end of your pregnancy, it may also help to get your baby into the right position for the birth
- Relax and control your breathing, which is important for pregnancy and labour.