In part two of her blog for Mumbler, Jo Boyes from Nidderdale Fitness discusses the benefits of Pilates for women after childbirth…
You have been carrying, nurturing and developing your baby for nine months during which time your body has undergone many complex changes. Although each woman’s pregnancy and experience are unique, giving birth will have had a huge impact both physically and mentally and postnatal Pilates can be extremely beneficial in helping new mothers to gently reconnect with their bodies as they adapt to all of the changes that occur.
There are many celebrities that appear to ping back to their pre-baby body in a blink of an eye and it can make normal mothers feel like they have to do the same or they are a failure if they don’t get back into their skinny jeans within a couple of months, if they can do it so should you right? Wrong. If having your pre-pregnancy body back consumes too much of your thinking then this can make you feel miserable and even resentful.
Being a mother is an amazing experience and your top priority is your baby and to give them everything they need. For you to do this you must take care of your mental wellbeing as well as physical then you will more likely to be in the right mindset to begin getting back into shape.
Pilates is one of the best ways to get into shape both pre and post-birth mainly due to the focus on developing a strong core and pelvic floor and can correct or improve diastasis recti, a condition that affects many women during and after pregancy.
A strong core is an incredible thing for anyone and pre and postnatal; it will give you a strong back, abdominals and pelvic floor. If these are strong and toned they will help you support you during your pregnancy and delivery (which I spoke about in my blog about prenatal Pilates).
Once your baby is born, you can begin getting your core muscles strong with Pilates. Another reason to use Pilates is its very easily adaptable and flexible; most of the exercises used in Pilates are easily modified to accommodate a stiff/sore back, or stretched abdominals, that are desperate to get back into shape. Modifications are important as they will help you to perform the exercises and get the most benefit from it whilst working within your own limitations.
This is a condition common in pregnancy where the rectus abdominus muscles separate due to internal pressure and growth of the foetus. These muscles run parallel to each other lengthwise along your abdomen and the connective tissue (Linea Alba) separates and thins which reduces support of your organs and trunk stability.
In most cases the condition can be corrected or significantly improved by Pilates because of the focus on abdominal and transverses and core strength. Practising smart core-stabilising exercises that engage the transversus abdominis muscles and the pelvic floor muscles, may help prevent Diastasis Recti in future pregnancies.
You should begin with caution and work with a trained Pilates exercise instructor, ideally on a 1-1 basis so that the instructor can give personal attention to you and give you the specific exercises that are tailored to you and your body.
Breathing is an involuntary action, we don’t have to think about it, our bodies just do it. There is a great relationship between the breath and pelvic floor. Healthy breathing patterns can help restore the pelvic floor and core function in a unique way and Pilates helps you focus on these.
You have had a baby and your body has changed and that is an unavoidable fact. Pilates provides an opportunity to for you to reconnect and rediscover your body and learn to love the changes that your body has made whilst you were creating a new life! This new found strength, stability and knowledge will help you feel and move more confidently whilst looking after your baby and help you to think about the way in which you hold your body whilst you are holding your child which will minimise back and body misalignments and pain further on down the line.
Start as you mean to go on, strong, stable and with awareness if how to move with and without your child for a back pain-free future.
Nidderdale Fitness runs classes in Ripon and Nidderdale. Find details on classes here.