Pilates and Pregnancy: How do I know it’s safe to start Pilates during my pregnancy? Can I do reformer Pilates in my first trimester?

There are many messages online surrounding the safety of exercise during pregnancy, and sometimes it can be overwhelming to navigate through all of this information. It can be difficult to determine what type of exercise to do, how much to do, how often to do it, and in what type of environment exercise can be performed in. Pregnancy is a time of change for a woman, and one of the simplest ways to take care of your health during this period is to exercise, and one option is to engage with Pilates.

Pilates is a fun form of exercise to strengthen our body, and is suitable even for all people of different exercise backgrounds, and can be performed during pregnancy. It is absolutely safe to do so, but there are a few precautions that you would want to consider prior to engaging in exercise for the health of yourself and the baby 

It is important that you listen to your body when you are exercising during your pregnancy. If you don’t feel like exercising at a particular time due to fatigue or any other reason, take it easy and provide your body what it needs. The motivation to exercise during your pregnancy will change and you may realise that doing some basic movements might help with your energy levels and fatigue. Engaging in Pilates-based classes with the support of a caring instructor might help with your motivation, engagement and exercise interest. Another added benefit to engaging in a class with the support of an instructor is that you will be provided with guidance on movement with body positions that are most comfortable to you.

Some considerations that might need to be taken into account during exercise include:

  • Engaging in movement in cooler temperatures
  • Wearing loose clothing to help reduce your body temperature
  • If you are starting a new exercise program in your pregnancy, start in smaller doses and gradually build up the intensity
  • Maintaining regular fluid intake before and during physical exertion

Women who experience any of the following symptoms should seek advice from their medical provider before continuing with their training program:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Amniotic fluid leakage
  • Calf pain or swelling
  • Chest pain/tightness/palpitations
  • Decreased foetal movement
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath before exertion
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Excessive shortness of breath
  • Pelvic pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Severe headaches
  • Vaginal bleeding

There are also different concerns for mother-to-be in their different trimesters. It is absolutely safe to exercise and do Pilates during your first trimester (it is recommended actually!). It is also advised to continue regular exercise during the second and third trimesters. It is a good opportunity to continue with activity during pregnancy to help with providing a head start to physical activity habits during the post-partum period.

This is a helpful brochure to help guide pregnant women on exercise habits during their pregnancy:

For more information, please feel free to reach out to your medical professional for further information, or talk with an accredited exercise physiologist or physiotherapist on any concerns that you might have for Pilates during pregnancy.

Brown, W.J. et al. (2022) Australian guidelines for physical activity in pregnancy and postpartum, Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. Elsevier. Available at: https://www.jsams.org/article/S1440-2440(22)00068-8/fulltext#secst0095 (Accessed: October 11, 2022).

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