You might already know that Pilates is excellent for increasing muscle strength and tone, especially in your abdominal muscles, lower back, hips, and buttocks (the 'core muscles' of your body), as well as improving balanced muscular strength on both sides of your body and enhancing muscular control of your back and limbs.

You might be thinking, "These sound like the perfect foundations for my body during pregnancy!" But, is Pilates safe during pregnancy?

Is Pilates safe during pregnancy?

Yes! It is safe to start Pilates during pregnancy if you do not have any complications. If you are already practising Pilates, it is safe to continue, but you may need to modify some exercises as you progress in your pregnancy. According to a 2021 study1, Pilates exercise during pregnancy improved the labour process and increased maternal satisfaction with childbirth, without causing complications for the mother and baby.

What does First Pilates Studios recommend?

First Pilates Studios only admit women up to 12 weeks into their pregnancy. However, after giving birth, Pilates can be incredibly beneficial. This phase is often referred to as postnatal or postpartum Pilates.

Postpartum Pilates

Including gentle exercise in the postpartum period can aid in speeding up the healing process by repairing and strengthening the muscles used during labour and birth. However, it's crucial to ensure you're doing the right exercises. Beginning with too much intensity too soon can be counterproductive.

Pilates, with its focus on deep core work, controlled breathing, and gentle movements, can be particularly beneficial. It helps improve circulation and promotes healing, regardless of the type of birth you experienced.

Here are the benefits of postnatal Pilates2:

1. Strengthens your pelvic floor muscles: The pelvic floor supports your womb, bladder, and bowel.

2. Improves Diastasis Recti: This occurs when your growing womb separates the two sides of your rectus abdominis, or 6-pack muscle, and is completely natural during pregnancy.

3. Improves posture: Pregnancy can change your posture, and these changes can persist due to breastfeeding and lifting your baby.

4. Prevents back pain and reduces tenderness: Many women experience back pain during and after pregnancy due to greater strain on the joints of the lower back and pelvis.

5. Strengthens core muscles: Postnatal Pilates significantly benefits core muscles weakened and stretched during pregnancy, ensuring complete strength and stability.

6. Improves well-being and confidence: Pregnancy can lead to significant changes in your body, and Pilates can help you feel more comfortable and confident in your post-pregnancy body.

Pilates in C-Section Recovery

It's advised that you take it easy for six to eight weeks following delivery until your next visit with your doctor. You can begin doing mild activities when you've received medical clearance and your scar doesn't appear to be infected.3

Even while it could be tempting to start exercising again right away, it's crucial to wait to start a regular regimen until you're ready. Recall that your kid took nine months to grow, and recovering completely after pregnancy and delivery can take several months. It is highly advised that you take your time and gradually increase your ability for exercise.3

Pilates is a great option at this time because it provides low-impact strengthening, which is great for postpartum recuperation and safely getting your body ready for more strenuous exercise.

When can I return to Pilates after a C-section?4

You can begin adding more Pilates activities to assist restore core strength and speed up your recovery after your 6-week GP check-up. As some women may require additional time before proceeding, at this point you will concentrate on prep exercises rather than complete activities, with a focus on strengthening the transverse abdominis (TVA) and pelvic floor.

After 12 weeks, if there have been no new issues and you are feeling good, you can progressively begin Pilates.

Cheers to all the new mothers out there with enough energy to think about working out at this point. You'll reap the benefits if you take it easy.


[1] Ghandali, N.Y., Iravani, M., Habibi, A. et al. The effectiveness of a Pilates exercise program during pregnancy on childbirth outcomes: a randomised controlled clinical trial. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth 21, 480 (2021).