Pilates helps one regain the abdominal muscles and pelvic floor strength after childbirth.
Post-natal exercise helps one return to their pre-pregnancy shape and gives one the energy and strength needed to cope with the demands of motherhood. It is common that new moms have tight neck and shoulders from breast feeding and carrying a baby plus a heavy baby bag. Never mind the pram and car chair! Mothers with slightly older babies often end up with lower to mid back pain from favouring one hip when carrying their little bundle of joy. Pilates not only helps relieve this pain and balance the muscles, but gives you the awareness and strength necessary to avoid favouring one side of the body and the knowledge of how to properly carry your body, even when the little one is running off into a busy crowd! Making this awareness second nature will allow you to activate the correct muscles without consciously having to stop and think about it. Once you have reached this point, the body starts to fall into balance and run like a well oiled machine.
Post-natal exercise also helps reduce stress and depression as not only are endorphins released providing one with a feel good rush of hormones, but the time taken for oneself, allowing the brain to calm and go within and focus on nothing but your body and yourself, helps the new mom to feel like she is a separate person again. And the improvement to the appearance of the body and the firming up of the post pregnancy belly is great for the spirits. Over the first few weeks, the uterus will contract and help flatten the tummy, and after a month or two of Pilates, the tummy will gradually return towards its pre-pregnancy condition.
It is important to consult with your doctor before starting any post-natal exercise program. For a natural child birth, the general rule of thumb is 6 weeks. Longer is sometimes needed for a Caesarean section. On the other hand, if you were regularly exercising during your pregnancy, you might be able to return to exercise sooner. During pregnancy, the abdominal muscles split down the middle. It is important that these muscles have returned to maximum 2 finger widths apart from each other. Until such a time, any flexion exercises, such as crunches should be avoided. Gentle pelvic floor raises are an ideal exercise with which to start. Your Pilates instructor will help you with the appropriate exercises at the appropriate time in your recovery.