I remember my first pregnancy, it was the first time I realised that my body is actually going to be a home for someone. I remember feeling absolutely overwhelmed with the thought of that and really obsessed with how I felt on the inside versus how I felt on the outside. I moved a lot more and worked a lot more to feel elated all those months. My thoughts were naturally consumed with the new life that was going to be born but the thought of what my body will have to go through never escaped me.
The demands on the body as it changes continue through pregnancy, during labour and in the everyday repetitive movements associated with caring for a baby. During these times, it becomes crucial to build a body for endurance, strength and relaxation. Due to the variety of exercises and the ability to modify them, clinical Pilates is ideally suited to the individual changes and challenges that come with your pregnancy. It is a fantastic mix of stretch, strengthen and repeat, so physio-led exercise (otherwise known as Pilates) makes for an ideal exercise regime to stick to especially for women’s bodies that go through immense internal changes.
Let’s look into few of the obvious challenges that women’s bodies face during pregnancy.
- Postural changes as the baby grows; you might have seen women walking with extended backs and penguin gait. Imagine what it does to their spine, pelvis and hips.
- Loosening of ligaments as the hormonal changes kick in. Hormone changes prepare the body for labour as early as 16 weeks into pregnancy. This leads to a lot of muscle imbalance and pelvic instability.
- Tiredness, swollen feet and ankles due to diversion of your blood circulation and nutrients to perform more important function like growing a human.
- Lower back pain and/or pelvic girdle pain at the front or back of the pelvis. Although some pregnancies are completely breezy some aren’t and doing the correct exercise plays an important role in managing this pain.
- You may experience all, or none of these things, but pay close attention to how your body is coping with the pregnancy changes.
Thankfully, your Physiotherapist will be there to guide you through these exceptional times. With every new development in pregnancy, good or bad, it is important to keep your physio in the loop. If you have a physio leading your class you will have a specialist eye to see through the the aches and pains too.
Make sure you get an approval from the GP and get yourself thoroughly assessed by your physiotherapist before you begin any kind of exercises during pregnancy.
Listen to your body, workout to your own capacity on the day and if an exercise doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.
Written by Urvi Shelar, Physiotherapist