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PREGNANCY AND PILATES

By Cheryl Alden, PT

I had been teaching pilates classes and courses for a couple years as well as other fitness classes when I became pregnant…..with twins.  Surprisingly enough, the twin thing didn’t come as a huge shock.  I have twin cousins, twin great uncles and my husband as twin cousins.  So part of me was expecting it.

I thankfully had a very uneventful pregnancy.  The only thing that made it exciting was the twin thing.  I was fit and healthy prior to conceiving and was able to maintain a certain activity level throughout.  I taught spinning up until my belly became so big that I was hitting it with each pedal stroke, for me, that was around the 6 month mark.  Yes, my belly was big.  Huge apparently was the word of choice as I kept hearing from the gym goers, family members, even strangers at the supermarket.  FYI..not a great word to describe a pregnant woman, just saying.  39 weeks later, much too late if you ask me, I gave birth via c-section to two healthy babies, a boy and girl.

I was not expecting to have a c section although I knew the chances were high.  I was not excited about having a surgery much less having a major surgery plus having to take care of two babies while recovering from it.  I had seen women in the PT clinic with horrible back pain who said that their abs were ‘cut open’ with the multiple c sections they had and never got their abs back.  I was determined that this was not going to be me.  I had no idea what to expect during my recovery and new child care duties but I did know a thing or two about rehab and had the pilates under my belt.  I decided to rehab myself to get back to the fit and healthy person I was prior to pregnancy.

6-12 months.  That’s what I told myself.  Expect a 6-12 month recovery from any surgery.  I started by just trying to get my abs to fire isometrically to get back in touch with them.  They got pretty stretched out and I had some residual numbness from the surgery early on.  Trying to reconnect with my pelvic floor and abdominals proved a challenge but consistency paid off.  I started being able to engage my core so then began more rehab with the STOTT PILATES essential repertoire.  People think the essential is basic or ‘too easy’ and say to me I want to get to the hard stuff.  Well, let me tell you, I gained a whole new respect for it coming back from pregnancy.  The essential level is NOT EASY!  It assumes normal core strength when done in its entirety.  I was sticking to the preps and basic moves for a long while.  I wanted to make sure I was doing the exercises well and not just going through the motions.  If I was going to rehab from this, I wanted to do it right the first time.  Work smarter and efficiently.  6 months came and went and I was still not where I wanted to be.  I definitely felt stronger and more stable but knew I has a ways to go.  Doing pilates when my kids napped, sneaking in exercises when they played, consciously engaging my core picking up my kids, doing housework etc. helped to significantly.  Small things add up.

Nothing ever comes as fast as you want it to when you are waiting for it.  Rehab, recovering from injury or even just getting in shape takes patience and consistency.  My kids were 11 months old when I finally felt strong again.  I remember doing the roll up on my living room floor and feeling my spine imprint and articulate like it should for proper movement.       I DID IT!  I was so excited.  11 months after pregnancy with consistent work, I finally felt like my core had come back.  I could now complete the essential repertoire with proper form and muscle engagement. 

Fitness, however, is a journey.  I was very pleased that my rehab had paid off and I was feeling more like my pre-pregnancy self but I knew that I wasn’t going to stop there.  Even now, I11 years later, I still work on imbalances to continue to improve upon my fitness.  Pilates has definitely helped to get and keep my body strong.  It showed me my weaknesses and imbalances from which to improve.   I have seen first hand how it helped me, I know it can help others.

 

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