Between feeds, nappy changes and endless hours pushing a pram hoping that baby falls asleep, finding time to look after yourself with a newborn is hard, virtually impossible. But mat Pilates for new mums, or postnatal Pilates, can be done in really short sessions at home and is one of the best ways to get back into shape gently and safely, after having a baby.
Mat pilates is particularly good for the post-partum body because it focuses on the areas of the body most affected by pregnancy: the pelvic floor, the abdominals and the back. It involves a series of exercises designed to gently strengthen the pelvic floor and deep abdominal muscles first, then the muscles of the upper back and shoulders, and then the legs and arms muscles. The aim of a mat Pilates class series will be to restore core strength first and then tone the arms and legs.
Because, ladies, how are you going to bounce that bundle of joy up and down if your core and arms are not rock solid!?
Pilates is also a great way to relax. The slightly forced Pilates breathing – in through the nose, out through the mouth – is a great way to release any tension accumulated in the shoulders and the upper back by carrying baby.
Pilates is a wonderful way to regain control over your body. By increasing your body awareness and your confidence in what your muscles can (or cannot do), Pilates will boost your sense of wellbeing and general comfort in your day-to-day activities as a mum.
In my Postnatal Pilates classes, I invite mums to come with their babies. But we do not carry the babies or use them as weights while we work out – that would be too much weight. But rather, the babies lie in the centre of the room, watching, observing their mums breathe and move in unison. This can be a very calming and soothing moment for the babies as well! And of course mums are welcome to stop at anytime to breastfeed or change their little one, as needed.
Many of the Pilates exercises we do in the classes can be done at home, once you have familiarised yourself with them. Please do not hesitate to ask me for a list or additional explanations if you intend to exercise at home! I recommend doing just a short, 10-15 minute gentle workout every day to speed up the recovery and strengthening process.
So… if you think that you would benefit from what I have just described, then… postnatal Pilates is for you!