Safe and Strong: Navigating Pregnancy with the Whole Body Pelvic Health Pilates Method

The first step in restoring the health & function of your pelvic floor is rebalancing your breathing.

I often get asked if it is safe to continue to do my Whole Body Pelvic Health classes while I’m pregnant. Here are some guidelines to help you if you are pregnant or you become pregnant while doing the Whole Body Pelvic Health Method. 

I follow the National Institute for Health Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines in the UK and integrate my over two decades of experience working with women and my own personal experience. 

General Advice for Practising Pilates while Pregnant 

During approximately weeks 8–13, you have the biggest surge of the hormone relaxin at this point, so go steady with everything you are doing in your life. Keep your range of movements small. No stretching! At any time, if you have any pubic pain at all, at any time, please stop and contact your healthcare provider. 

Movements to Avoid or Modify When Pregnant

Avoid opening your legs wide or squeezing them tight shut against resistance.

You will stop doing any big core strength exercises like sit-ups, crunches, planks, and push-ups as they can cause separation of your abdominal muscles and make it hard for your abdominal muscles to lengthen and make room for your growing baby. 

If you are used to doing a practice where you do lots of inversions like headstands or rollovers, this will be the time to pause that until after your postnatal checkup. 

Pilates in Your First Trimester 

If you are already doing classes, you can carry on the exercise you have been doing but don’t start anything new until after your 12-week scan. This means that if Whole Body Pelvic Health classes are not new and you are feeling up to exercise again, then you are fine to continue. If you have any high-risk factors or other health conditions, you should pause and seek out the advice of your healthcare provider. Until 15 weeks, you carry on as you were before unless you feel unwell, experience any pain, or have any high-risk factors. 

Practising in your Second Trimester

Beyond 15 weeks, you will need to adapt some of the positions. Firstly, when you are lying on your back, use a stack of pillows to elevate your head above your heart. I recommend using three pillows, with two of them stacked horizontally and one vertically in the middle, making a T shape. This creates more of a wedge-type incline for you to lie on.

Secondly, you will need to cut out the exercises on your tummy and adapt them to being in a quadruped position. 

Third Trimester

You might find some movements more awkward as you are steadily growing. You may find it easier to do some of the exercises in bed or seated on a chair rather than lying on the floor. You will want to concentrate now on the quadruped exercises that help to prepare your pelvis for birth. 

I always like to say that pregnancy is a sign of health and well-being; you don’t need to be wrapped up in cotton wool, but you do need to be informed about what will be helpful for you to do and what won’t. 

I hope this blog gives you some useful pointers, and I’ll see you in class!