Pilates for Moms-To-Be

 Photo Credit: GreenKat Photography

Photo Credit: GreenKat Photography

Many women find Pilates to be one of the best exercises, both during and after their pregnancy. One of the reason Pilates and pregnancy go together so well is that it is great at building core strength. Strong abdominals, back, and pelvic floor muscles provide support through pregnancy and delivery. Pilates is also awesome for helping new moms get their figures back after baby.  Another reason to do Pilates is that it is a low-impact workout with modification to adjust to your needs and limitations. It boosts flexibility and balance and prevents back pain by strengthening your core muscles.

Pilates involves doing a series of controlled movements, on a mat, using small props, or on Pilates equipment. These exercises can be enjoyed throughout your pregnancy because the moves are very easy to modify around your belly.  While most Pilates moves are very gentle and safe, you still have to be careful not to overdo it. The ligaments around your joints are much looser during pregnancy thanks to the increased production of the hormone relaxin. So don’t do any moves that feel uncomfortable or put pressure on your joints. When lying on your back, make sure your head is above your heart and as your belly gets bigger your balance may get thrown off.

Here are a just few simple Pilates exercises using a fitness ball and hand weights. If you have never done Pilates before, first check with your doctor or midwife. If you are interested in a Pilates routine during pregnancy, it is important to find a pre-natal class or work with an instructor who can give you one-on-one attention.

Standing Leg Work: Targets Legs

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Starting Position: Place the ball against a wall and stand with your lower back against it, holding it in place. Place your feet slightly forward, hip distance apart.

Movement: Squat down to a 90-degree angle or less, rolling the ball down the wall. Extend your legs to stand.

Tip: engage your abs to relieve lower back pressure. Keep knees over the center of your foot.


Spine Twist: Targets Abdominal Obliques

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Starting Position: Sit on ball with a comfortable distance between your legs, arms in a T position, palms facing up.

Movement: Rotate trunk to one side, return to start position. Alternate sides.

Tip: Keep pelvis and legs still, move head and arms together with trunk, initiate the movement from your waist not your shoulders.


Open Elbows Arms Sitting: Targets Muscles around the Shoulder Blade, Opens the Chest

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Starting Position: Sit on ball with a comfortable distance between your legs holding 2 – 5lb dumbbells; bend the elbows at a 90-degree angle in front of the shoulder.

Movement: Move from the shoulder blades to open your arms to the side

Tip: Keep your shoulders down and elbows up


Side Kick Kneeling: Targets Hip Abductors and Torso Stabilizers

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Start Position: Kneeling on one knee, rest torso against ball, hander under shoulder, top leg lifted to hip height, free hand on ball.

Movement: Swing leg forward and flex the ankle, swing leg back an point the toe

Tip: Don’t sink in to the ball or shoulder, keep you pelvis and torso stable, keep height of the swinging leg consistent


Leg Lift: Targets Glutes and Hamstrings

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Starting Position: Kneeling on the mat, chest resting on the ball, hands resting on the floor, hips aligned over knees, shoulders over hands, one-leg straight back.

Movement: Lift leg, lower leg

Tip: keep abs engagement, keep spine long and aligned from top of head through tailbone. Keep your pelvis stable.


Child’s Pose & Round Back: Stretches the Back, Shoulder and Hip, Resting Pose

Starting Position: Kneel on the floor. Touch your big toes together, and sit on your heels. Separate your knees and allow pregnant belly to rest in between legs.

Movement: You can rest in this pose or add spinal movement by rounding the torso allowing the ball the move towards you with long arms.

Tip: Don’t lift shoulders to your ears. Keep your hips low. Use your abs to round the spine, avoid pulling the ball with your arms.