Pregnancy Workout Plan | Pilates at Home

Choosing a Workout for Your Pregnancy

Looking for an exercise program while you’re pregnant can be somewhat like choosing chocolates in a candy store. You don’t know if you’re going to like it once you buy it or if it’s going to satisfy your very individual needs and tastes. Pregnant women addicted to their weekly Pilates workouts don’t need to give them up – they need to find an activity that takes their new status as pregnant women into consideration.

For the sake of convenience, many pregnant women choose to do their workouts at home with one of the many videos or books available on the subject. The question is, which one? It’s essential to choose a workout that will keep you in shape yet not compromise the pregnancy. Remember to get a go-ahead from your health care provider before beginning any workout program, even if you are used to physical exercise.

Sarah Picot is a certified Pilates instructor and the Pilates for Pregnancy Series creator, including pre-and post-natal videos. She believes Pilates is perfect for pregnant women because it targets the deep abdominal muscles used during labor.

“It also stretches and strengthens back muscles, which will help make her pregnancy more comfortable,” says Picot. “It’s a gentle program that by design does not jerk the body. Rather, it stretches the muscles and improves posture. An overly increased heart rate and elevated body temperature [a concern for pregnant moms] is not an issue with this exercise method.”

Along with increasing the strength and control of your pelvic floor, Pilates also increases your concentration and focus, which helps you prepare for the hard work of labor. Because breath control is essential to the Pilates workout, many women find the deep breathing of giving birth much more effortless.

Just for the Pregnant Woman

Picot stresses how important it is for pregnant women to choose a Pilates workout explicitly geared toward them. “The intense abdominal work of traditional Pilates is not recommended for pregnant women,” says Picot. “The rectus abdominus muscle in the abdomen can separate during pregnancy from being overstretched.”

Another health concern for pregnant women is the time that traditional Pilates workouts keep them on their backs. This is a no-no after the fourth month, as the growing uterus can pressure a significant artery and cut off blood supply to the baby. Picot recommends finding a program that addresses the needs of each trimester by modifying the exercises to keep the pregnant woman off her back.

Jennifer Gianni, a certified Pilates instructor and owner of the Embodyment Studio in Venice, Calif., agrees. “There are guidelines for all three trimesters so you will constantly be modifying, and you want a video that guides you through these changes,” says Gianni. “Pregnancy is no time for hardcore exercise. For example, the first trimester is the time when most miscarriages occur. It is important to be extra gentle with yourself during these three months. Spend your exercising time on breathing, strengthening the pelvic floor, gentle toning and working on posture. In other words, take it easy. This is not the time to train for a marathon!”

Choosing a Pilates Video Just for You

There has been an explosion of exercise videos geared toward pregnant women. Gianni says while many good videos are both safe for your baby and beneficial to your health, you have to watch out for those not.

“Use common sense,” says Gianni. “There are pregnancy videos out there that are not safe and are unclear. If it doesn’t feel good, if you’re uncomfortable or feeling any pain, don’t do it.”

Choose a well-structured and balanced workout. Balance, for obvious reasons, is essential for pregnant women. It is also crucial to make sure there are modifications for all three trimesters and clear descriptions of the workout positions.

“It’s great if the instructor uses visualizations, like imagining the pelvic floor muscles as an elevator or imagining you are trying to stop the flow of urine,” says Gianni. “Any imaginative, descriptive ways of helping you to contact these muscles are important.”

When buying a Pilates pregnancy video, first make sure that the instructor on the tape is an expert in the field. Gianni says to also look for a section or introduction that addresses safety and posture. Posture is a constant challenge throughout pregnancy. Good posture and alignment can help pregnant women avoid the usual aches and pains. And, like any exercise program, enjoyment is a large part of wanting to work out regularly.

“We have become very creative with prenatal exercise,” says Gianni about her video, Jennifer Gianni’s Fusion Pilates for Pregnancy. “And we have a post-natal video coming out along with a book about exercising and lifestyle while you’re pregnant.”

Choosing a Pilates video to use during your pregnancy can be a daunting task, but going into labor as physically well prepared as possible is well worth the effort. The following videos are only a partial list of what is available. Checking them out from your local library is an excellent way to find out if the workout is for you without having to spend a great deal of money.

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