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Pilates is one of my top choices when it comes to strength training. I studied to be a Pialtes instructor in my early 20s, and I’ve never stopped using it as a tool to build strength and supplement my running and other workouts. Pilates is also one of the best forms of exercise for prenatal and postpartum mamas! It is low impact, focuses on building your core and breath work, while also building strength in the hips and glutes. I have created many Pilates workout routines for both postpartum and prenatal mamas using the exact exercises I’ve used to help me stay strong during pregnancy, and heal quickly after birth.

Prenatal Pilates is an amazing way to prep your body for birth, keep up your strength and help you maintain a healthy weight through all trimesters. I have a basic Prenatal Pilates workout you can use no matter what trimester you are in, to get you started on your Pilates journey. I also have a great round up of Prenatal workouts on YouTube that will help you get started with Pilates and your workout program.

The Basics of Prenatal Pilates

Prenatal Pilates focuses on core strength, flexibility, and conditioning the whole body. It includes modified exercises to cater to pregnancy, ensuring safety and comfort. Starting any new exercise during pregnancy requires consulting a healthcare provider.

Core Benefits of Prenatal Pilates

Prenatal Pilates has become my go-to for a healthier pregnancy journey. I found it does wonders not just for me but for many moms-to-be. So, let’s dive into why this form of exercise stands out, especially during these special nine months.

Benefits of Prenatal Pilates:

Here are some benefits of Pilates for prenatal core strength:

  1. Improved Posture:
    • Pilates emphasizes proper alignment and body awareness. Engaging in Pilates exercises can help pregnant women maintain good posture, reducing the strain on the spine and alleviating discomfort associated with changes in body shape.
  2. Core Stability:
    • The core muscles, including the deep abdominal muscles and the muscles around the pelvis, are targeted in Pilates. Strengthening these muscles helps provide stability to the spine and pelvis, which is particularly important as the body undergoes changes during pregnancy.
  3. Reduced Lower Back Pain:
    • Pregnancy often leads to increased strain on the lower back. Pilates exercises can help alleviate lower back pain by strengthening the core muscles, providing better support to the spine, and improving overall spinal stability.
  4. Pelvic Floor Support:
    • Pilates incorporates exercises that engage and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. This can be beneficial for preventing issues like incontinence and supporting the pelvic region during pregnancy and childbirth.
  5. Safe Abdominal Workouts:
    • Pilates offers a variety of exercises that target the abdominal muscles without putting excessive strain on the rectus abdominis (six-pack) muscles, which can separate during pregnancy (diastasis recti). Pilates focuses on strengthening the transverse abdominis, the deepest layer of abdominal muscles, which can help prevent or minimize diastasis recti.
  6. Enhanced Body Awareness:
    • Pilates encourages mindfulness and body awareness. Practicing these exercises can help pregnant women develop a better connection with their changing bodies, improving balance and coordination.
  7. Adaptability to Different Trimesters:
    • Pilates workouts can be modified to suit different stages of pregnancy. Certified prenatal Pilates instructors can provide modifications that ensure safety and effectiveness throughout each trimester.
  8. Breathing Techniques:
    • Pilates emphasizes controlled breathing techniques that can be beneficial during labor. Learning how to engage the diaphragm and use the breath effectively can assist in managing stress and maintaining focus during childbirth.
  9. Whole Body Strength:
    • While Pilates has a focus on the core, it also engages and strengthens other muscle groups, promoting overall body strength and flexibility. This can contribute to a sense of well-being during pregnancy.
  10. Preparation for Labor and Postpartum Recovery:
    • Pilates can help pregnant women build strength and endurance, which may contribute to an easier labor and facilitate postpartum recovery.

Above all, these benefits don’t just make pregnancy more comfortable; they pave the way for a potentially smoother labor. By keeping the body active and prepared, Prenatal Pilates primes mothers for the physical demands of childbirth. I couldn’t imagine my pregnancy without it, and I strongly encourage other expectant moms to give it a try. With each gentle stretch and core engagement, we’re not just taking care of ourselves but our babies too.

Free 7-DAY Prenatal Workout Challenge

Safety Guidelines

Starting prenatal Pilates turns exciting, but safety always comes first. You must get a clear green light from your doctor or midwife before diving in. This step is non-negotiable. Once you have that, look for a certified prenatal Pilates instructor. Someone trained specifically for pregnancy knows the dos and don’ts, setting you up for a safe journey.

Moderation holds the key. Overdoing it could harm you and the baby, so always listen to your body. If something feels off, stop immediately. Certain positions, especially those on your back, might need avoiding as your pregnancy progresses. Your instructor can guide you on this, ensuring your Pilates experience supports you and your baby every step of the way.

Getting Started with Prenatal Pilates

Finding someone to guide you through your Prenatal Pilates workout is really important. I have the basic Pilates moves listed below, and these are really simple to start incorporating into any workout routine you might already be doing. Start by doing 10 reps of each move, 3 times before you do any workout. This will prep your body, strengthen your core and keep your pelvic floor safe as you go to workout.

Basic Prenatal Pilates Workout Routine Warmup:

Prenatal Pilates can be a safe and effective way for expectant mothers to maintain strength, flexibility, and overall well-being during pregnancy. Pilates is a wonderful warm up to any prenatal workout routine you might already be doing. You can build habits, protect your core and pelvic floor, as well as keep yourself injury-free through all trimesters by using these moves to warm up with. However, it’s crucial to consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new exercise routine during pregnancy to ensure it is suitable for your individual situation. Assuming you have received approval from your healthcare provider, here’s a general prenatal Pilates routine that you can consider. Make sure to listen to your body and modify exercises as needed:

Warm-Up:

  1. March in Place: 2 minutes
    • Gently lift your knees one at a time, engaging your core muscles.
  2. Shoulder Rolls and Arm Circles: 2 minutes
    • Stand tall and roll your shoulders backward and forward. Perform gentle arm circles to warm up the upper body.

Prenatal Pilates Routine: Perform each exercise with controlled movements and focus on your breath.

Pelvic Tilts (first and second trimester only):

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, hands on your hips. Inhale to tilt your pelvis forward, arching your lower back. Exhale to tilt your pelvis backward, rounding your lower back. Repeat for 1-2 minutes.

 

Standing Leg Lifts:

Hold onto a sturdy surface for balance. Lift one leg to the side, keeping it straight. Lower it back down and repeat on the other side. Perform 10-15 reps on each leg.

 

Cat-Cow Stretch:

Come down onto your hands and knees. Inhale to arch your back (cow position), and exhale to round your back (cat position). Repeat for 2-3 minutes.

Pilates Squats:

Stand with feet wider than hip-width apart, toes turned slightly outward. Inhale to lower into a squat, keeping your back straight. Exhale to return to the starting position. Perform 15-20 squats.

Side-Lying Leg Lifts:

Lie on your side, supporting your head with your hand. Lift your top leg while keeping your pelvis stable. Lower it back down and repeat. Perform 12-15 reps on each side.

Seated Spine Stretch:

Sit with your legs extended in front of you. Inhale to lengthen your spine, and exhale to hinge forward from your hips. Hold for a few breaths, then sit back up. Repeat for 2-3 minutes.

Pelvic Floor Exercises:

Perform Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. Inhale to relax, and exhale to engage the pelvic floor muscles. Hold for a few seconds, then release. Repeat 10-15 times.

Modified Plank:

Come down onto your hands and knees. Extend one leg back at a time to come into a modified plank position. Hold for 20-30 seconds, keeping your core engaged.

Cool Down:

Child’s Pose:

Kneel on the mat, sit back on your heels, and reach your arms forward. Hold for 2-3 minutes to stretch your back and shoulders.

Seated Side Stretch:

Sit with your legs crossed. Inhale to lengthen your spine, and exhale to reach one arm overhead, stretching to the side. Hold for 20-30 seconds on each side.

Always prioritize your safety and comfort during prenatal exercise. If you experience any pain, dizziness, or discomfort, stop the exercise and consult with your healthcare provider. Consider taking a prenatal Pilates class or working with a certified prenatal fitness instructor to ensure you’re performing exercises correctly and safely.

Best Prenatal Pilates Workouts On YouTube: 

Once you’ve started developing your consistent Pilates warm up for your workouts, you will want to start adding full Pilates workouts into your routine. There are some great, free, Prenatal Pilates Workouts on YouTube that I loved, and you will love too!

Pregnancy Pilates For A Sculpted Body (15-Min Prenatal Pilates Workout)

Pregnancy Pilates For A Fit & Toned Pregnancy (20-Min Prenatal Pilates Class)

Full Body Pregnancy Pilates Workout + Stretches | Prenatal Pilates | 1st, 2nd, 3rd Trimester

BEST Pregnancy PELVIC FLOOR Workout | Prenatal Pelvic Floor Strength Exercises

20 MIN PRENATAL PILATES 🤰Gentle Full Body Workout / 1st, 2nd & 3rd trimester save for fit pregnancy

Continuing Your Pilates Journey Post-Pregnancy

After the baby arrives, the Pilates journey doesn’t have to end. Bringing a new child into this world changes everything, including your body. Pilates can shift again to meet your postpartum needs. It’s not just about bouncing back; it’s about rebuilding strength and confidence in your body’s new normal. This transition period lets you focus on recovery, with exercises specifically tailored for postnatal rehabilitation.

Finding time for Pilates might seem challenging with a newborn. Yet, integrating short sessions into your daily routine can make a significant difference. You could practice pelvic floor exercises while feeding your baby or do gentle stretches during nap times. This flexible approach ensures Pilates remains a supportive part of your life, offering stability and strength during the whirlwind months following birth.

Remember, consistency is key. Even a few minutes a day can contribute to your overall recovery and well-being. Pilates offers a gentle, supportive path back to fitness, making it an ideal choice for new mothers looking to regain their strength and stamina.

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