THE EFFECT OF PREGNANCY ON YOUR CORE:
There is no better example of our core under fire than pregnancy and beyond! If we look at the core’s individual components we can see how every aspect is placed under strain during pregnancy, and disrupted and sometimes injured during delivery.
1) The Diaphragm ( breathing muscles) that form the top of the core: During pregnancy the baby starts to take up extra room as the pregnancy progresses. This leads to reduced movement of the diaphragm as it becomes squashed by the baby and this is one of the reasons that you feel breathless after doing the simple activities like climing the stairs. You are likely to compensate for this lack of movement by using your other breathing muscles ie those around your chest and neck and this is a more inefficient way of breathing
2) Your abdominal muscles: This is more obvious as you notice your tummy growing week by week during your pregnan. Pregnancy hormones, particularly Relaxin, allow your muscles, fascia, ligaments to stretch to accommodate your growing baby so stretching of the tummy muscles is a normal part of pregnancy. People sometimes panic is they think they have a gap between their tummy muscles during pregnancy but this is common in over two thirds or pregnancy as the stretch happens along the bellies of the tummy muscles as well as at the linea alba which sits at midline between the bellies of the tummy muscles. Most of the recovery of tummy muscle shape occurs in the first year after pregnancy.
3) Your pelvic floor: The research says that one in three women who have had a vaginal delivery may suffer from urinary incontinence ( i.e involuntarily leakage of urine) and one in five women who have had a caesarean section, so it is obvious that the pelvic floor suffers during pregnancy and delivery, whether it is a section or vaginal delivery. Your pelvic floor forms the base of the core and has to carry the weight of your growing bump as well as perform its usual tasks such as carrying your usual weight around and maintaining bladder and bowel control. Whether or not you suffer from incontinence during pregnancy is so important to maintain a strong pelvic floor for the future to prevent things like urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.
4) Your lower back muscles: With the increased load in the front of your body, your lower back muscles need to work harder to maintain your normal upright position during standing, walking etc. Some pregnant women tilt their pelvis forwards during pregnancy, others tilt it backwards; either way this changes the loading through your back muscles and puts them under extra pressure.
THE BENEFITS OF DOING POSTNATAL PILATES:
Postnatal Pilates helps your body to recover after pregnancy and delivery. The class is designed to challenge your core muscles gradually and the main aims of the class are:
-To gradually and safely build up the strength in your pelvic floor to treat or prevent urinary incontinence an pelvic organ prolapse, to prepare your body for return to more intense exercise such as running, bootcamp, Zumba, Crossfit, Weight-lifting etc, and to prevent low back pain/ Pelvic pain in future pregnancies or just in future.
-To build up the muscles that encourage good posture. Pregnancy and caring for small babies and toddlers can place so many stresses on our bodies, and mainly it encourages us to round our shoulders. Think of all the jobs that surround caring for your young children: feeding, changing nappies, lifting carseats, lifting babies in and out cots, pushing buggies,more lifting. All of these tasks lead to a change in posture that places us more at risk for lower back pain, pelvic pain, neck pain and shoulder pain. Good posture is the simplest way to counteract bad posture and the injuries it can cause
-To build up general strength, flexibility and fitness. The class is 60 minutes in duration and it targets all muscles. When it comes to post-natal Pilates, there are plenty of muscles that we can work hard. Pilates is a perfect compliment to aerobic exercises as it is great for toning and strength.
You can start post-natal Pilates 6 weeks after you have had your baby. Until then your Pilates program is your pelvic floor exercises and your pelvic tilting as advised by the Chartered Physiotherapists where you had your baby. Your baby is welcome to come to the class with you! Give me a shout if you have any questions or would like to book in.
If you are unsure about your ability to exercise in a group or are concerned about your pelvic floor or pelvis, I am available to see you individually to check your tummy muscles and pelvic floor before you decide to join a class.