Pregnancy and pilates: Is reformer Pilates good for post-natal?

When you think of pilates you may visualise someone on a mat doing floor-based exercise or maybe you have heard this new buzz word around your friends who are recently getting into training and exercise. What makes it so special?

What is the reformer?

The reformer was first invented by Pilates founder Joseph Pilates. It is a bed-like frame with a flat platform, also known as the carriage which rolls back and forth. The springs attached to the carriage provides the amount of resistance for the movements trained.

Role of post-natal rehabilitation

Following childbirth, it is not uncommon for women to experience abdomen, spinal, pelvic and hip pain occurring months or years after delivery due to multi-factorial influences.

Post-natal rehabilitation specifically pelvic floor muscle training helps to decrease the rate of urinary incontinence and related conditions 6 months post-partum. It also can be used to increase muscle strength and endurance in the pelvic region (Sigurdardottir T et al, 2020).

In addition, post-natal rehabilitation helps to assist with fatigue management by improving sleeping quality (Ashrafinia et al, 2015). This in turn helps the new mothers to perform family duties and activities of daily living. Post-natal rehabilitation exercises can be a great way for women to stay active, bond with friends in a social setting, and improve cardio-metabolic health markers.

Is reformer Pilates safe for post-natal rehabilitation?

Absolutely! It is safe to exercise at a moderate intensity for a minimum of 30 minutes as recommended by the Australian physical activity guidelines.

There are many ways to undertake post-natal rehabilitation. Post-natal rehabilitation can improve lumbo-pelvic strength, reduce pain and improve health-related quality of life (Sonmezer et al, 2021). The reformer Pilates is one of the many ways you can kick-start your post-natal rehabilitation.

Whilst reformer Pilates is relatively safe, it is highly recommended for you to consult with your doctor, physiotherapist or exercise physiologist before starting your post-partum reformer Pilates journey. A physiotherapist or an exercise physiologist can help provide you with guidance in staying active through the use of reformer Pilates.

  1. Sigurdardottir, T., Steingrimsdottir, T., Geirsson, R. T., Halldorsson, T. I., Aspelund, T., & Bø, K. (2020). Can postpartum pelvic floor muscle training reduce urinary and anal incontinence?: An assessor-blinded randomized controlled trial. American journal of obstetrics and gynecology222(3), 247.e1–247.e8.
  2. Ashrafinia, F., Mirmohammadali, M., Rajabi, H., Kazemnejad, A., Sadeghniiathaghighi, K., Amelvalizadeh, M., & Chen, H. (2014). The effects of Pilates exercise on sleep quality in postpartum women. Journal of bodywork and movement therapies18(2), 190–199.

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