1st Trimester Pilates – 7 Pre-Pilates Exercises to Teach Your Newly Pregnant Clients

This is the 2nd part of our pre and postnatal series leading up to our teacher training in January 2017. You can read the 1st part on preconception and Pilates here.

The 1st Trimester is considered from conception to 14 or 16 weeks. This is considered the most vulnerable time during pregnancy, only because miscarriage is more likely to happen in this trimester compared to the 2nd and 3rd.

Previously, the ACOG (American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists), has given the guideline that women should not begin any new type of exercise in the 1st trimester, because of the higher risk of miscarriage, from the idea that anything unfamiliar to the body causes risk.

BUT, the ACOG recently updated their research, and released a new set of guidelines for exercise during pregnancy stating that:

If you are healthy and your pregnancy is normal, it is safe to continue or start most types of exercise.

and that…

Physical activity does not increase your risk of miscarriage, low birth weight, or early delivery.

The organization even mentioned “modified Pilates” as a safe form of exercise.

Three beautiful women dressed sportswear standing and looking at camera. Front view.

I confirmed this new information with my OBGYN Nurse Practitioner Paige Cook who said that:

As long as they were somewhat physically active before pregnancy, modified Pilates is fine. What we advise against is something like starting a running routine if the woman was not running before she became pregnant. Also, we advise against any exercise if there are complications such as first trimester bleeding, hypertension, etc.

This is awesome news for you as a prenatal Pilates instructor!

No more having to turn away potential clients.

You can pick up a copy to read and to give to clients at the following link:

ACOG Exercise During Pregnancy FAQ – Updated in May 2016

First Trimester

Conception -16 weeks.

  • The body begins to rapidly change, being flooded with pregnancy hormones.
  • Nausea and fatigue are common, but exercise can help reduce the severity of these symptoms.

Precautions to Take:

Although these new guidelines give your 1st trimester clients’ clearance for Pilates:

  • Always make sure she has clearance from her doctor, and
  • Keep the exercises moderate.

If she has not done Pilates before, you will start with Pre-Pilates exercises listed below.


Recommended Pre-Pilates Exercises:

Always make sure your client has clearance from her doctor. And that she has signed a liability waiver for your studio.

  1. Breathing

-Breath awareness with Lateral Thoracic Breathing-standing, sitting and laying down. (Click on the image below to print for your or your clients)

2. Neutral Pelvis

– Pelvic tilts to find neutral will help counterbalance the increased lordosis as the belly grows.

3. Pelvic Floor Awareness

Pelvic Exercises-Elevator, Zipping Up, Kegels.

Pelvic Floor Stretching- Squatting

(See #7 on using the glutes for a video about squatting)

Step by step instructions: Stand with your legs just over shoulder width apart, toes pointing slighting outwards. (A) Sit back as though sitting into a chair - breaking at the hips before bending the knees. Keep your back straight and lower yourself down as low as you can go. (B)

  1. Scapular Lift and Lower –blooming Flower

    Lattisiumus dorsi awareness. Helps to loosen up tight shoulders, and create room in the torso for the growing uterus and organs.

Blooming Flower Version 1-Hands behind the head

Blooming Flower Version 2- Arms cross

  1. Spinal awareness – Roll-Downs

    -Helps to create room in the spine.

  1. Hug the Baby- Belly to the spine

    -Important for overall stability during exercise and everyday activities.

Click here to read about Hug the Baby

7. Gluteal (Butt) muscle Use and awareness With squatting

Thank you for hanging out with me to learn more about the 1st trimester!

Please feel free to contact me with questions or comments! AlisonB.Marsh@YourPregnantCore.com

Alison B. Marsh

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