I have been doing Pilates for over 8 years, and I’ve been teaching it almost 5. I know the benefits of it, I know all sorts of modifications for each specific exercise, and I can see if my students are doing it properly or if they want to cheat.
But when I got pregnant I didn’t want to do anything. I knew I couldn’t do the regular order, the traditional poses, so I was ready to skip it for the next 9 months. But I also heard about Diastasis Recti ( https://www.diastasisrehab.com/what-is-diastasis-recti ) and I know nontraditional prenatal Pilates workout is great for it. But still, I wasn’t buying it.
So I went to a Pilates Prenatal Training taught by a woman who knows what she is talking about when it comes to pregnancy. So there I was 5 months pregnant in the training and I felt absolutely uncomfortable. Uncomfortable because I was the only one who was pregnant and I had to demonstrate poses that were new to me all while I wasn’t feeling comfortable in my body. It was feeling weird because I wasn’t sure if it is good for my baby. I wasn’t worried about my body, because after years of practicing Pilates and yoga I have a good connection with my own body. My teacher explained why we all should do Pilates during pregnancy, because it helps to activate the abdominal muscles that otherwise might not be working for 9 months which will help post-natal recovery as well. Her presentation was convincing and I loved it. We began practicing, and that’s when I started to panic. It was fine in my body, but the fear in my mind was bigger and I kept thinking “OMG this is definitely hurting her and I’m sure she will not like it!” Because I didn’t focus on proper alignment, breathing, and couldn’t loose up during the exercises I had back and stomach pain throughout that night. I knew I would have to talk to my teacher because I was sure I was doing something wrong.
The next day I had so many questions. First, I told her I’m really feeling uncomfortable with Pilates during this time of my life. I feel like I am crashing my baby and hurting her every time I do the transverse abdominal engagement. My teacher’s explanation was so comforting, she really calmed me down. She told me, “Viki, think about it your baby loves to swaddle, and every time you do the transverse work you are really just hugging your baby with your ab muscle and organs. So it will make her more comfortable. You know that even 2 weeks after birth babies still keep the fetal position just like in the womb.” Right? Right. (http://www.parents.com/baby/care/crying/ways-to-recreate-the-womb/ )
This was a great answer, and later that day she gave a private session demonstration with a 6-month pregnant woman, showing me that Pilates is for pregnant women also. Just please don’t go to a regular class (!). If you have a little experience with Pilates I recommend only a private session. For the most part a woman’s body will not understand what to do even in a prenatal class if they have been to Pilates classes less then 10-20 times. After few (5-10, If you can go twice a week) private session you can go for a Prenatal Pilates class and you will know what to do with confidence and can keep up with the class.
The day that I talked to my teacher I did almost the same thing what we did the day before and more. This time I was relaxed and gained back my trust of my own body. I felt amazing afterwards. Sure I did stop when I felt it was too much for my body, but I didn’t make faces, I wasn’t negative and after few minutes I continued to practice with the rest of the students. Finally, I felt strong again. Since I have been pregnant I haven’t felt this strong. I was so concerned about my baby so I have only been walking and doing some light yoga practice. I felt like I was loosing myself, losing strength and losing control of my own body.
Pilates brings me back confidence and makes me feel that, yes, I still can do somethings if I just listen to my body and stop when I need to.
I am still going to my teacher once a week for private sessions as well as practicing alone throughout the week. I go to her so she can help me practice properly so the next time I do it alone I really focus on what she says.
Beside practicing I do transverse work every day 30-50 times. I especially like to focus on my transverse abdominals when I walk on the stair machine. Thank you Valerie for showing me that even when you are pregnant you still can be strong and confident!