Introducing
Pilates


How can Pilates help?

LOLA provides Pilates classes which are designed specifically with grieving mums in mind. Whether you are new to Pilates or have practised before, Pilates can help you, when you feel ready, to move your body and your mind towards a place of physical and emotional strength after suffering the tragic loss of your child.

Pilates focuses on strengthening, stretching and coordinating your body’s movement. By learning to move in a controlled and focused way and by using your breath to add your practice, Pilates can help to improve your movement, balance, flexibility and core strength, after you have given birth.

The Pilates method can also help you to become mentally stronger, and more able to do things you might be finding very difficult following the loss of your child. When you practise Pilates, you have an opportunity to take a break, even if it is just for 10 or 20 minutes, just for you.

The Pilates classes provided by the LOLA project are aimed at grounding your grieving mind and calming your troubled heart, as well as improving your physical wellbeing. It is our hope that you feel re-energised and, with time, just a little more able to face the world again.

In this video, Kate Handy introduces Pilates and explains specifically how it might help you following the trauma of delivering your baby.

 



Pilates and your Emotional Recovery

We at LOLA know that the grief you feel at the loss of your child will be overwhelming. While the pain of that loss will remain intense for some time, it can be possible to find ease by placing mental and physical trust in yourself and by increasing your strength slowly, safely and consciously.

In particular, if you are able to move and physically connect to the areas of the body where you are ‘holding’ your emotional strain, you will give yourself the best chance of emotional connection and recovery. As you progress through your grief it is important to find ways to coordinate your mental and the physical self, especially around your abdomen, where so much change and loss has taken place. As you allow yourself to feel, strengthen and connect to this area, you also create the potential for emotional release. By practising of a series of exercises you are also making time for yourself. Time to feel, focus and aim towards recovery. This is positive and caring act you can do for yourself at a time when you need it most.

Pilates is also a very useful form of exercise to help you focus your mind and allow you not only to become physically, but also mentally, stronger. Where Pilates is able to help you to establish emotional and mental strength, this may also help you to manage the deep pain and sorrow you feel after losing your baby. In this way, Pilates may be helpful for you in coping with the things which have happened to you before now, and in beginning to think about the future again.

In particular, Pilates may support your emotional recovery and help you to:

  • Relieve stress
  • Re-balance your emotional wellbeing
  • Give you a chance to take time for reflection and peace in a quiet space

Ashley Cummins explains the emotional benefits of Pilates.

 



Pilates and your Physical Recovery

After you have delivered your baby, your uterus will be contracting, your breasts will be continuing to change and your cervix will be hardening. You may also be coping with tears, grazes or prolapses. The body has an amazing way of repairing itself, but with such a list, a little help can go a long way.

Pilates focuses on toning your abdominal core, while isolating and releasing joints. It helps to strengthen the pelvic floor and improve the abdominal wall and spinal posture. Pilates can also help you to regain control over muscles, tendons and ligaments which have weakened during pregnancy. It may also improve your blood flow, reducing pain and improving your post-partum recovery.

In particular, Pilates may help you to:

  • Develop your core strength
  • Stabilise your entire torso, relieving pressure on your back
  • Move your body more freely and efficiently
  • Restore your abdominal muscles
  • Restore your pelvic floor muscles
  • Improve your posture
  • Increase your body tone
  • Increase energy and circulation through the pelvis
  • Regain your pre-pregnancy and pre-delivery body shape and wellbeing
  • Negate post-natal incontinence associated with weak pelvic floor muscles
  • Regain strength in muscles that have become weak and overstretched during pregnancy and birth

Ashley Cummins explains the physical benefits of Pilates.

 



Postnatal Pilates – Reconnecting with the Core and Pelvic Floor

Postnatal Pilates improves postural awareness and muscle control, reducing the split in abdominal muscles by building the abdominal muscles from the deepest muscles outwards. With a stronger core and improved awareness of muscle control, it can reduce pain in the low back and pelvis. It also helps to improve control of the pelvic floor, improve coordination, balance and create good posture.

The focus on these controlled movements and placement of the body brings the mind to the present moment, encouraging a sense of calm and clarity.

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The Classes


Practicing Pilates

If you feel pain at any point STOP. These exercises are designed for focusing on strengthening and release and not strain.

If you feel dizzy, nauseous have blurred vision or feel unwell STOP. These may be symptoms of tiredness, low blood pressure or anaemia and are a signal that you are doing too much.

Always consult a health professional if you have any of these symptoms or any queries with these exercises and ALWAYS listen to your body.

If you are under medical supervision, check in with your doctor before embarking on any exercise, including Pilates practice.

Safety

General exercise can be introduced 6 weeks after giving birth, the recovery period will differ for each woman if you have had a cesarean section it could be more like 8 weeks please check with your doctor before you start to exercise. Pelvic floor exercises can be introduced as soon as you feel ready, days after birth.

Listen to your body to determine what feels right for you.

Please check with your health care professional if you have diastasis recti (also known as abdominal separation) it is commonly defined as a gap of roughly 2.7 cm or greater between the two sides of the rectus abdominis muscle.

As well as checking with your doctor, you can check for diastasis recti yourself by doing the following:

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor
  • Place your fingers with the palm facing you on your belly button
  • Lift your head and neck just slightly off the floor while you press down with your fingers. If there is a gap, that is the diastasis
  • Conduct the same test just above your belly button and just below the belly button (as the gap can measure differently in these places)

If you suffer from diastasis recti, avoid any crunches or spinal flexion exercises until the issue is resolved. These types of moves can worsen the diastasis.

Focus on gentle connecting exercises that work on the pelvic floor and connecting with the core from the inside out.