Pilates & Pregnancy: Rebuilding after baby

April 29, 2013 in Motherhood, Pilates, Pilates & Pregnancy

 

I started taking Pilates classes while I was pregnant with my twin daughters. A dear friend of mine was certifying as an instructor and introduced me to it.  When I was entering my 7th month of pregnancy with the twins, I was admitted into the hospital because I was having preterm contractions.  Contractions I wasn’t even aware of.  So, here I was, three months to go in my pregnancy and I couldn’t even leave my bed to use the bathroom.

I went from taking ballet classes and doing my Pilates practice, to sitting in a hospital bed. That lasted for about two months.  These girls were over it and wanted to come out, so they did – a month early. Because I was delivering twins, and because they were a month early, the doctors didn’t want to take any risks and decided a Caesarean section was the best way to deliver.

So, I was wheeled in, drugged up and numbed from the waist down so they could go in and grab my little munchkins. And they were little.  Nia weighed 5 lbs 9 oz and Kaia was all of 3lbs 11oz. Cute as they could be and ready to take on the world.  Ten years later they are strong, beautiful and compassionate young ladies.

Needless to say, after lying in bed for two months, my muscles were significantly atrophied. In addition to weak muscles, my abdominal wall had been cut for the evacuation. It wasn’t until I tried to sit up and get out of the hospital bed that I realized how much we rely on our abdominal muscles to sit up.  Getting out of a regular bed proved to be even more challenging. It took about two weeks before I could stand up straight and walk without shuffling. After some time, I was back to “normal” and able to take the occasional Pilates and dance class again.

Fast forward one year and SURPRISE, I was expecting again!  Once again, I was taking the occasional dance and Pilates class during my pregnancy. Then, as I was entering into my 9th month of pregnancy I decided it was a brilliant idea to become a Pilates instructor, and so I enrolled and started my journey.

Three months later, I was certified and teaching Pilates. It was during that training course that I really learned about the body and how to strengthen certain body types and rehabilitate post-operative bodies. As a dance major in college, I was required to take an Anatomy class, so I was already somewhat familiar with the body but this training course really drove it home. During my 9 years of teaching, I’ve worked with many types of bodies, rehabilitated a wide range of injuries and helped many pregnant mamas up until the day they delivered and then again after.

I think it’s interesting that pregnancy is expected of women. It’s expected of a woman of a certain age and every woman is expected to become pregnant without any problems. Then, after delivery, she’s expected to hop up and care for this bundle with ease. And so we get pregnant, gain a large amount of weight rapidly, deliver then, care for our newborn(s). But wait a minute – what about the weight gain and the hormones and the shifting pelvis, contracting uterus, the brain fog and the all night feedings?

After 9 months of madness, we need to rebuild ourselves, ladies, so that we can be the best dang mama that we can be. But how do we avoid the post baby blues, the hormone swings, the body loathing, and become the pre-baby hot mama we once were? Having a baby really takes a toll on us – mind, body and spirit, right? Once the baby is here it’s basically “go time” and there’s not a lot of time to think about what we as mamas want or need. But there should be!

We need to make our self, as a mama and caretaker, a priority. If we don’t, who will? And if we’re not feeling red hot and wonderful, then how can we be fully present for our new, sweet bundle?

Pilates was my saving grace after delivery. If I hadn’t practiced Pilates after my pregnancies I would not have regained my strength after two Caesarean sections, I wouldn’t have lost my baby weight and I would be stuck in body loathing blues. Fatigue, hormones, and body loathing are no gal’s friend and it doesn’t put us in the right frame of mind to enjoy our new babe.

When we feel good, we look good and when we look good we feel good, right? To help fight the body loathing blues, exercise is key because exercise creates endorphins, makes us sweat out unnecessary toxins, clears our minds, builds muscle and helps us lose weight. All of these things are necessary to getting our new mommy mojo back.

Pilates is an excellent choice for building strength after baby is born. When practiced properly and carefully, we can regain our abdominal strength after our muscles have been stretched beyond recognition, rehabilitate after Caesarean sections, strengthen the back and alleviate any aches and pains as the body shifts back into pre-baby shape.

Pilates is known for lengthening and strengthening muscles, giving our bodies a toned, lean look and feel. Pilates is also very form-focused, which is great for getting our bodies back in to proper alignment after pregnancy has caused shifts in the pelvis.

Practicing Pilates has not only changed my physical body but has also helped me mentally. It gave me that much needed break for “me time”. It allowed me to pause during my busy day and take big, deep breaths. A lot of us get in the habit of taking shallow breaths during the hustle of our daily routines, but if we learned to take the time for deep breaths, it would help us with relaxation and mental clarity.

Getting away for a Pilates class also helped by giving me a reason to get out of the house and to have some social time with the other gals in the class. A time for adult conversation and interaction is every gal’s necessity for sanity after baby. When we can be a part of a community and build a support system of any kind, we strive, maintain our sanity and accomplish goals that maybe we couldn’t do alone.

I’m here for you, gals. If you have any questions for me regarding Pilates and Pregnancy, I’m happy to help any way I can.

hugs & kegels,

Natalie


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