Pilates For Pregnancy

Written by Nuala Coombs on September 19, 2021

Is It Safe?

Pilates For Pregnancy

It's an important question. Is Pilates For Pregnancy Safe?  It's been proven, ladies who exercise during pregnancy are more likely to have a calmer delivery.  Pilates during pregnancy is the perfect low-impact exercise programme.

What are the Benefits of Pilates For Pregnancy?

Pilates targets the areas most affected during pregnancy - posture, back pain & balance.  The fundamental benefit of a Pilates For Pregnancy programme is these areas.  With the controlled movements using a full breath, the system not only strengthens but helps to mobilise and stabilize.

Exercise Considerations


  • After the 20th week, it's recommended (ACOG) no exercise on the back (supine). This position may reduce the blood flow to the baby and potentially cause Oxygen deprivation (Hypoxy).  The answer to this is to have the Mother's head higher than her heart - lifting her upper back and head will help.
  •  Side lying, standing, or kneeling are all appropriate throughout the period.  It's possible during the 2nd or 3rd Trimester putting pressure on the wrists may cause discomfort due to water retention or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Pregnant women on back on wedge

The American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists have a detailed website covering all aspects of Pregnancy.


Second Trimester

  • From the Second Trimester exercises requiring forward flexion (bending forward) and those using the main abdominal muscle (Rectus Abdominis) should be avoided.  The tissue running from the breast bone to the pubic bone (Linea Alba) needs to open to accommodate the growing baby.
  •  Keeping this opening to the minimum is essential for the best recovery after delivery.  So Aggressive abdominal exercises like crunches or head lifting should be avoided. The Pilates Method promotes connection to the deep abdominals throughout the performance of each movement, developing stabilisation of the Pelvis. This is necessarily performed with controlled movement.

Hormone Relaxin

  • During Pregnancy, the body produces the hormone Relaxin. Relaxin affects all ligaments in the body to accommodate the developing fetus and prepare for birth.  Relaxin peaks during the first trimester.  Because of relaxed ligaments. exaggerated stretching must be avoided.  Stretching to the natural length of a muscle is fine but no forced stretching should be practiced.

Yes to Exercise

Exercising during pregnancy has many benefits, not least the "me" time for the Mother as well as the improved sense of well-being.  The effect on posture cannot be overestimated.  As the pregnancy develops there's a potential for the pelvis to tilt forward. Left unchecked this can cause compression in the low back resulting in pain.  Regular Pilates For Pregnancy classes during pregnancy will help strengthen postural muscles particularly the abdominals to avoid excessive forward tilting.

So the answer is a big YES to using Pilates When Pregnant with modifications as it progresses.  I've had clients attend classes up until their delivery dates.

When Baby Is Here

  • Returning to Pilates when the baby has arrived needs consideration whether or not the birth was natural.  When the doctors give the all-clear a gradual return to pre-pregnancy exercise levels is recommended. Extra attention should be paid to maintaining a connection to the deep abdominals to avoid delay in healing the separation in the Linea Alba and a return to the best posture.

In Conclusion

Pilates For Pregnancy

  • Yes it's safe during a healthy pregnancy to exercise
  • Follow the modifications given by the instructor
  • Stay hydrated throughout - don't wait until you feel thirsty
  • Listen to your body and follow your instinct - if an exercise causes concern stop and ask for guidance

If you have any particular questions regarding Pilates and Pregnancy as a client or Teacher,  just ask - Nuala@nualacoombspilates.com

Nuala Coombs
Pilates For You
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