top of page

Pilates while Pregnant

Pregnancy and child birth has internal and external impacts on a woman’s body. During pregnancy, every system is affected, including respiratory, cardiac/circulatory, hormonal and muscoskeletal.
This explains some of the common side effects, including:

  • Shortness of breath

  • Tiredness

  • Swelling

  • Varicose veins

  • Postural changes

  • Lower back issues

  • Pelvic joint pain

  • Carpal tunnel symptoms

  • Rectus diastasis (separation of the abdominal muscles) and,

  • Urinary incontinence

One of the best ways to minimise these symptoms is with exercise. Exercise prevents disease, reduces stress, manages fatigue and leads to a better overall quality of life – pregnant or not!

Pilates is an excellent method of exercise while pregnant, and the modifiable exercises can effectively accommodate the needs of pregnant and post-pregnant woman.

As with most things, Pilates still poses risks to pregnant and post-pregnant women which is why your Pilates workout will change.
While pregnant, Pilates changes per trimester, always ensuring that the mum-to-be feels comfortable throughout the workout.
Post pregnancy, your workouts will change as the weeks increase and you regain your strength. The exercises are modified to meet your personal needs (each birth is different, and Pilates accommodates all sorts!)


Some general guidelines during pregnancy

  • Maintain moderate intensity.
    While pregnant your body is already in an exercised state, even at rest your body needs to work harder to sustain itself. Although you may have been advanced pre-pregnancy it is vital to your health, and the health of your baby that you try not to increase the heart rate too much and take the easier exercise modifications.

  • Keep Cool & Stay Hydrated
    Make sure you’re wearing breathable clothes to classes, and if need be get your instructor to move a fan closer to you. Make sure you drink lots of water before, during and after your class.

  • Activate pelvic floor muscles during all exercises to keep it as strong as possible
    As the weeks go by, feeling your pelvic floor gets harder and harder, so it’s important you strengthen it as much as possible to help with your post-natal recovery.

  • Stop immediately if you feel unwell
    Stop if nausea, dizziness, cramps or leakage occurs.


Pilates by Trimester

As we mentioned, your pilates workouts will need to change as your pregnancy progresses. Even if you feel healthy enough and comfortable enough to perform come exercises we ask you not to do the following:


First Trimester (1-12weeks)

As soon as you know you’re pregnant please tell your instructor. This is confidential information that they need to keep you, and your baby, safe while working out.

You may be tired and experiencing morning sickness – you can continue to exercise as you used to however you may find you need more breaks in between moves. Don’t push yourself to the point of exhaustion; instead focus on engaging your pelvic floor muscles.
Throughout this first 12 weeks the amount of abdominal work (sit-up type exercises) will be decreased. Instead, we will focus more on T-Zone activation and strengthening your deep core muscles to assist with posture.


Second Trimester (13-26 weeks)

You’ll start showing around this time, and there are more exercises which need to be avoided.

  1. Avoid all abdominal work
    Strengthening theses muscles (which make up your ‘6-pack’) while pregnant drastically increases your risk of a pronounced or significant rectus diastasis 

  2. Avoid inner thigh work.
    These muscles are connected to your pubic bone, which as your pregnancy progresses will naturally start to separate for child birth. Exercising these muscles while the area is unstable can cause the pubic bone to separate even more – which can cause severe groin pain .

  3. Avoid positions lying on the stomach
    As it can become uncomfortable to lie on your stomach, we avoid exercises which encourage you to do so

  4. Limited exercises lying on the back
    Each pregnancy is different, and some women are comfortable on their backs up until their 3rd trimester. However, your instructor will check with you and not keep you on your back for long periods of time to avoid any dizziness or nausea.

Third Trimester (27 – 42 weeks)

Your belly is getting bigger, and with that comes a little excess weight in the front (and for good reason). Your posture will be changing dramatically and exercise intensity will be greatly decreased. As long as your feel comfortable, your workouts will focus on posture, strengthening the arms & legs and pelvic floor activation.




We encourage all clients to continue their Pilates while pregnant – just remember and be prepared to decrease your intensity and change your workouts as your progress. We want to keep you happy, healthy and most importantly safe!

And for those of you who haven’t tried Pilates, we would love to work with you throughout your pregnancy to make it as easy and enjoyable as possible.

bottom of page