Q: Is it safe to do Pilates during pregnancy?
A: The following is general information and should not be regarded as being medical advice, please contact your family physician for information that will be appropriate for you.
STOTT PILATES follows the current standards practiced in the fitness industry regarding safety during pregnancy and the guidelines set out by professional organizations. The most recent guidelines are based on evidence and were developed by exercise scientists, Health Canada, Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP), and the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada (SOGC). These guidelines include a pre-medical screening (PARmed-X for pregnancy), aerobic exercise and muscle conditioning (frequency, intensity, duration, type, and gradual increases), also information on nutrition and post-natal exercise (1). For uncomplicated pregnancies, moderate exercise is safe for the fetus. Women with complicated pregnancies have been discouraged from exercise. There are “contraindications” in which risk may exceed benefit. For a list of these contraindications refer to table 1 of:
Exercise is said to prevent low back pain and varicose veins, as well as boosting self esteem, maintain fitness levels and prepare the body for the physical demands of motherhood. Exercise has also been linked with a faster delivery and recovery
A woman's body goes through many changes during pregnancy and exercise must be adapted and modified as the pregnancy progresses. The beauty of Pilates is that it can be individualized for anyone's ability. Due to an increase in fatigue levels, workouts and schedules can be adjusted accordingly. During the second trimester the abdominal muscles become stretched out, and some women experience diastasis recti (separation of the abdominal muscles), at this point demand on the abdominals should be decreased. During pregnancy there are many hormonal changes, the ligaments surrounding the joints become lax, leaving them loose and vulnerable. For this reason, you should be careful not to overstretch. It is important to continue strengthening and rebalancing the muscles around the joints – supporting the body as it goes through postural changes related to pregnancy. At approximately the 16th week of gestation, laying supine (on your back) should be avoided as the abdominal contents and the fetus can compress your inferior vena cava and decrease the maternal blood supply and subsequently the fetal blood supply may be affected. In the second trimester, positioning must be adjusted and light equipment combined with the matwork exercises becomes very useful (1,2).
The following link offers an American Collage of Obstetricians and Gynecologist Education Pamphlet:
1. Wolfe L, Davies G. Canadian guidelines for exercise in pregnancy. Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology 2003; 46(2): 488-495.
2. Artal R, O’Toole M, White S. Guidelines of the American college of obstetricians and gynecologists for exercise during pregnancy and postpartum period. Br. J. Sports Med. 2003; 37: 6-12.