Can I exercise during the First Trimester? Yes – but there are limitations. When you are between 1-12 weeks pregnant, you’re likely to be feeling tired and experiencing morning sickness. This initial stage of pregnancy is also when you are at a greater risk of miscarriage, so it’s important to keep any exercise to a low intensity, and monitor your heart rate and body temperature. While practicing certain Pilates exercises is safe during this time, it’s important to see a professional and be aware of what you can and cannot do. I’d recommend focusing on strengthening and activating your TA (Transverse Abdominus) and pelvic floor muscles. AVOID sit up exercises where you work your Rectus Abdomius (six pack muscles), as this can increase your risk of developing Rectus Diastasis – a condition where the abdominal muscles separate.
Can I exercise during the Second Trimester? Yes – but there are limitations. When you are between 13-26 weeks pregnant, you’ll be beginning to show more as the baby grows – with this growth comes more restrictions in terms of exercise. You should avoid abdominal and inner thigh work, as well as positions where you are lying on your stomach and back. Side-lying leg lifts (working your oblique muscles) may be performed if comfortable, as well as a series of supervised and specific moves tailored to your pregnancy.
Can I exercise during the Third Trimester? Yes – but there are limitations. During your third trimester, exercise intensity will be greatly decreased. You’ll be experiencing reduced mobility, dramatic postural changes due to the baby’s growth, and general discomforts. That said, you can continue your tailored work-outs as long as you feel comfortable – focusing on sitting, side-lying and standing routines, focusing particularly on pelvic floor activation.
When can I return to Pilates post baby? Deciding when to return to exercise after a pregnancy is a hugely personal choice, and of course birth factors and possible complications in your delivery and pregnancy will play a large role in when you feel ready. The general rule with gentle Pilates training is 4-6 weeks post birth, however a caesarean birth will push things back to at least 6 weeks post baby.
Why do I still have my baby bump? Firstly, it is completely normal for your post baby tummy to remain large at first, so remember to be kind to yourself and remain realistic about the pace of your recovery. That said, Pilates is one of the best forms of exercise for those concerned about their tummies, as it targets your TA (Transverse Abdominus) – the muscle responsible for pulling your abdomen in. There are loads of reasons why your tummy won’t be flat after giving birth, here are a few:
The uterus takes 6 weeks to shrink back to it’s normal size.
Your abdominal muscles have been stretched during pregnancy and it takes time for them to return to their original tone and strength… in rare cases with particularly large babies or large amounts of weight gain during pregnancy, the muscles may never return to their previous length.
Rectus Diastasis (a condition where the abdominal muscles separate due to over-stretching) can cause a bulging stomach.
General weight gain around the midsection during pregnancy.
Loose, excess skin due to stretching that doesn’t return to normal.