Pilates During Pregnancy

Beth West shares her personal journey of practicing Pilates before, during and after pregnancy.

By: Sheryl Sowell | Category: Health & Fitness | Issue: August 2015

Teresa McIlroy, owner of Strength of Mind & Body, with client Beth West and her son, Abraham.

Teresa McIlroy, owner of Strength of Mind & Body, with client Beth West and her son, Abraham.

Beth West attended Pilates classes at Strength of Mind & Body for four years before she became pregnant with her first child. Rather than use it as an excuse to be lazy, Beth continued attending classes throughout her pregnancy and since giving birth to her son, Abraham, seven months ago. “Pilates helped me in so many ways before and after he was born. My job requires me to sit at a desk most of the day, and doing Pilates twice a week helped me stay active and gain a healthy amount of weight during pregnancy,” says Beth. “I also believe it helped prepare me physically and mentally for labor.”

According to Strength of Mind & Body owner Teresa McIlroy, RPT, “Pilates helps build your abdominal core strength and pelvic floor strength, as well as improving flexibility, agility and economy of motion. During pregnancy, ligaments become lax, and Pilates is about strengthening the deeper muscles that stabilize joints, providing much needed stability and balance.”

A common difficulty of pregnancy is backaches and overall discomfort, and Pilates can help ease those pains. “Pilates felt great when I was really uncomfortable the last few months. It was refreshing to come to class and stretch and tone my muscles,” says Beth.    

An important element of Pilates is breathing. The Pilates breath focuses on taking full inhalations and exhalations. “During the labor classes I took, they discussed breathing exercises to help make labor more manageable. I was already familiar with the breathing concepts from taking classes at Strength of Mind & Body,” says Beth. “Pilates teaches you to focus your mind on your breath and concentrate on what your body is doing. Although it is different for every woman, I feel in my personal situation that the breathing and concentration techniques I learned in Pilates helped me successfully achieve my goal of having an unmedicated birth.”
In addition to promoting a healthy pregnancy and birthing experience, Pilates can help women bounce back more quickly after their baby is born. During pregnancy, many women experience a separation of their stomach muscles, known as diastasis recti. “Pilates strengthens the deeper core muscle called the transverse abdominus, which is like your natural, God-given girdle, and helps repair the abdominal wall muscles,” says Teresa. In addition to the physical benefits, Pilates after delivery offers mental and emotional benefits as well. “It’s important to take some time for yourself as a new mother, and coming to Pilates once or twice a week helps me relax and stay emotionally healthy,” adds Beth.

Beth West demonstrates the Pilates Reformer machine.

Beth West demonstrates the Pilates Reformer machine.

The small class sizes at the Strength of Mind & Body studio allows the instructors to provide individualized attention to each client. “Whether you are expecting a baby, recovering from an injury, or completely new to exercising, we can tailor a program for you and modify exercises as needed. We have clients ranging from young athletes to people in their 80s. We emphasize personal attention and a sense of community.”

Talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise program, especially during pregnancy. For more info about Strength of Mind & Body’s fitness programs, visit  

Sheryl Sowell Profile Picture

About Author Sheryl Sowell

Sheryl Sowell was born and raised in Tulsa, OK. She graduated from Will Rogers High School and received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Northeastern State University in 2007. She has worked for Value News as editor, writer and advertising copywriter since 2008. She enjoys meeting and interviewing people for Value News articles, learning about their backgrounds, and helping to promote their businesses and local events. In her free time, she enjoys reading, trying new recipes and crafts from Pinterest, attending concerts and sporting events, and spending time with family and friends. Sheryl lives in Tulsa with her fiancé Paul, their daughter Scarlett, and their two dogs, Gunner and Boo.

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