Pregnancy and Pilates - First Trimester

1st Trimester

Welcome to the first 12 weeks of pregnancy!  It is always an exciting time, there is an array of changes that happen to a body when growing a little human!  The level of change will vary from body to body, but there is one thing that all bodies should have in common, and that is to continue to move. 

One of the first things that might be noticed early on in the pregnancy is the increase of fatigue, there may be nausea/morning sickness experienced, this will differ body to body, from none to extreme and moods may swing.  There maybe changes to bowel movements, blood pressure may decrease, body temperature may increase, there will be changes in breast tissue and there will be changes to ligament laxity.  All this needs to be taken into consideration to establish safe movement patterns for the changing body.

Participating in Pilates at The Pilates Vibe at this early stage of pregnancy will deliver a programme designed specifically for this phase of pregnancy and focus on strengthening the body for new demands.

So how should we be moving early on in the pregnancy?  It always depends on the body and what it is experiencing but there are some general rules to consider:

-        It is good to keep moving, this will be different for every body

-        It is OK to lie on your back until 16-18 weeks

-        It is time to learn how to properly engage and relax your pelvic floor muscles to assist with pregnancy phase, continence and post delivery recovery.

-        Focus on strengthening upper body for lifting and postural awareness as body changes

-        Breathing techniques are important to learn to reduce stress and to help create more room for baby

-        Learning how to get up and down safely without over using superficial abdominal muscles

-        Avoid split legged movements or single leg loading

Even at this early stage, a hormone called “relaxin” is being released and will remain in the body for some time after birth.  The purpose of relaxin is to soften the pelvic ligaments and make it easy for baby to pass through the pelvic outlet at the time of birth. Although extremely effective at the time of birth, relaxin can cause pain associated with pelvic instability throughout the phase of pregnancy. This is why your Pilates instructor will work on conditioning the muscles around the pelvis, such as the glutes, the pelvic floor and core muscles, to keep pelvic instability related pain away. Standing on one leg, adductor squeezes and the swinging of legs should be avoided.  There are hundreds of other exercises available in the Pilates repertoire that are functional and will keep you strong.

Some fantastic exercises might include:

-        double leg bridge

-        sidelying positions

-        shallow squats

-        4 point kneeling

-        arm and leg work from standing and sitting positions

Movement is critical right from the beginning of pregnancy, if nothing else it will help with fatigue and moods, it will give you time to connect and tune in with what is happening with your body.

Don’t forget to download a pelvic floor app so you can practice anywhere – Squeezy is a great one!

Written by Pilates Instructor Sharon Van Geelan