October 17th 2009 - Designing exercise programs for pregnant women means more than making exercises lighter or easier. A prenatal/postpartum exercise program addresses the specific physical and emotional changes that affect nearly every system in a woman's body. Because of functional changes in the body in pregnancy, there are interactions of pregnancy and exercise that alter safety measures and the results of exercise. Childbirth is a major life event for a woman, and exercise in pregnancy helps prepare for the challenge of this event and for parenthood.
Prenatal client No two women's bodies are the same, especially throughout pregnancy. One of the most significant changes in the body is the change in the center of gravity as the baby grows in size during the second half of the pregnancy. This causes changes in a woman’s posture and balance which puts stress on muscles and joints. Changes in body alignment are due to two major factors: the shift in the center of gravity, and hormonal changes that affect the looseness of ligaments and tendons in preparation for the birth of the baby. Because of the increased amounts of relaxin and progesterone released in the body during pregnancy, the ligaments surrounding the joints become lax and more mobile. This produces the decrease in stability experienced by pregnant women, and means that they must be very careful to limit their range of motion when exercising.
There are many benefits for women who participate in regular exercise programs throughout their pregnancies.
* A decrease in physical discomfort throughout pregnancy.
* Improved oxygen and nutrient delivery for both mother and fetus. During the first half of pregnancy, exercise increases the size of the placenta, helping the baby grow.
* Helps prevent excess weight gain and promotes fast return to physical fitness after birth.
* Improves mental and emotional health, reduces stress and improves concentration.
Some of the postpartum physical changes may include abdominal weakness, back pain, pubic and tailbone pain, and a weakness of the pelvic floor muscles, which often causes urine leakage. Changes may occur up to six weeks post delivery, and longer if breast-feeding.
Throughout your pregnancy, it is important to continue strengthening and rebalancing the muscles around the joints - trying to center the body as it goes through postural changes due to pregnancy. The Pilates Method inherently addresses these issues, and is a safe and effective form of exercise for pregnant women to help with breathing technique, body alignment and to recover body shape and toning after the birth.
Pilates focuses on core conditioning, which is the strengthening and stabilization of the abdominals, pelvis and spine. This improves postural alignment, which reduces back pain, and assists women during labor and recovery. A key element in performing Pilates exercises is proper breathing. The posterior lateral breathing inherent to Pilates, improves the mobility of your ribcage when the range of motion of your diaphragm is limited due to the position of the baby. This is especially true in the third trimester. This breathing technique also promotes relaxation and activation of the transversus abdominus, the deep abdominal muscle responsible for support of the lumbar spine and pelvis. Activation of the transversus abdominus also triggers the pelvic floor muscles, which can help cure incontinence and pelvic floor dysfunction.
The Prenatal/Postpartum Exercise Program at Equilibrium Fitness Pilates & Yoga, modifies exercises through the three trimesters of pregnancy, based on the clients specific needs. The program utilizes all of the Pilates apparatus, including resistance bands, weights and balls, to provide a safe, effective and low-impact fitness workout. Benefits include abdominal and pelvic floor strengthening, maintaining current range of motion, leg strengthening, upper body strengthening in preparation for carrying and lifting your child, and feeling relaxed, confident and ready for child birth.
Prenatal clients are assisted in maintaining good physical conditioning throughout their pregnancy, aiming towards easier labor, delivery, and recovery. Programming includes relaxation techniques, core strengthening and stabilization, and weight training. Postpartum clients generally resume training approximately six weeks post delivery with their doctor’s permission. Longer for cesarean deliveries. This is due to the normal adjustments of having a new baby and abdominal recovery. Program emphasis focuses on proper postural alignment and body mechanics, abdominal recovery, and improving circulation and strength.
Equilibrium Fitness - The Center of Pilates & Move
2019 Foothill Boulevard
La Verne, CA 91750