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O

ver the years I have had many clients who used Pilates not only in preparation for being a mother and during the pregnancy process itself but also to assist the delivery process itself, and with that knowledge of their body and the tools gained with the method of Pilates they have also discovered a highly successful path to recovering their pre-pregnancy health and appearance in a simple, safe and effective way. Tamara has been with us since 2004 and we have watched her develop become a mother of two, a business owner and an excellent Pilates educator. Her background in Health & Fitness, appetite for knowledge and her accompanying skills makes her the perfect person to write this book on Pilates and Pregnancy.

ost pregnant women go through typical pregnancy without any complications. On the other hand, this condition can sometimes be accompanied by prejudice and misconceptions, where people often lack understanding for a woman who wants to remain active in pregnancy. These could not be further from the truth – physical activities, together with proper and balanced diet is the key to having a healthy child. FIT – PREGNANCY PILATES is one of the finest examples of how you can take care of your health during pregnancy through balanced exercise. Future mums, get moving and enjoy working out and being pregnant! Dr Zoran Marić, Gynaecologist and Obstetrician

E

xercising together can be both fun and useful. New book from this series brings numerous ideas and suggestions on how to keep yourself and your baby in shape. Excuses like not having enough spare time won’t cut it anymore, because now you can work out with your baby, at home or in the park. Moreover, the book contains a number of light and simple exercises for the baby, which will help develop their strength, motor activities and movement coordination.

T

here is no better physical exercise than pilates. What a good cookbook is for the kitchen is what this book is for working out during pregnancy. The author unveils small secrets of great masters, which will help you learn pilates techniques in no time. With them, you will be able to enjoy your pregnancy to its very end. Tatjana Papić, international law professor, mother of Koča (7) and Ida (1)

I

tried all the exercises described in this book by doing pilates with Tamara Ratković throughout my entire pregnancy. I felt great! Pilates has become a part of my everyday routine and my lifestyle. Ana Karić Ljesar, Bodin’s mother

Tamara Ratković

M

FIT – PREGNANCY PILATES

Michael King, MK Pilates Institute

... coming soon

Tamara Ratković

pregnancy pilates


WHAT IS PILATES

P

ilates is a physical fitness system, a body and mind technique that puts emphasis on movement, precision and amplitude of performing that move, but also its continuous interaction with breathing. Your body and gravity are basic tools of exercise. Joseph Pilates, a visionary who created this technique, incorporated into his fitness system various elements from Eastern disciplines, but also from functional training, dance, box and other sports. This way, he presented maximum challenge with enormous benefit for the body. He stressed that mind and body must always be coordinated, while everything you do has to be highly controlled. Strong core combined with flexible spine and supple extremities makes a healthy and wholesome body! People of all ages and genders can do pilates, including those already physically active, women in pregnancy, but also people who suffer from musculoskeletal and cardiovascular diseases or diabetes, or those who are currently rehabilitating from a surgical intervention. This is one of the safest and most productive physical activities for the period before conception, during pregnancy and recovery after giving birth. Just like every person is their own individual, pregnancies alike can vary from case to case. The aim of exercising during pregnancy should be to make everyday life while pregnant easier, but also to facilitate childbirth. Exercise should under no means be forced or used for weight loss purposes. Exercises presented in this book are only a fraction of the pilates technique, but can still be useful guidelines for controlled, optimal workouts during pregnancy.

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BENEFITS OF EXERCISING DURING PREGNANCY

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ilates is a harmonious fitness technique that elongates and strengthens the muscles without utilising aggressive or dynamic movements. It helps improve body’s flexibility, balance, resistance and concentration, making it more functional. Keep in mind that body and muscles possess exceptional memory, remembering everything they go though. For this and many other reasons, pilates is my preferred choice of fitness program during pregnancy.

1. Exercises improves blood circulation, which reduces possibility of swollen ankles and varicose veins (unless they are caused by genetics);

2. Bowl movement is encouraged; 3. The risk of becoming overweight is reduced; 4. Pain in the pelvic region and back is reduced, while posture is improved;

5. The risk of pregnancy diabetes is reduced; 6. Stress, depression and drastic mood swings caused by changes in hormonal levels are also reduced;

7. Physical energy and overall mood are improved, while the preparatory stage for childbirth is facilitated.

Extreme movements and intense stretching, especially in the pelvic area, is not recommended during pregnancy.

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In pregnancy, due to the activity of a hormone called relaxin, flexibility and mobility of joints is already increased, which might lead to injury. Furthermore, belly growth causes irregular walk, changes in balance and proneness to falls. Pilates exercises are strictly controlled, while many are designed to improve balance, ensure more secure movements and reduce the possibility of falls.


SOME PREGNANT WOMEN SHOULD AVOID EXERCISING

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any women feel fine during pregnancy, but body structure, multiple pregnancies and other factors could lead to complications while doing pilates or any other physical exercise. Consider the reasons why you should avoid exercising while pregnant:

1. Gynaecologist’s advice that exercising is not recommended; 2. Bleeding occurred in this or previous pregnancies; 3. Doctor has determined that the baby’s development is slowed down; 4. Pregnancy is with twins or multiple babies; 5. Miscarriage occurred in earlier pregnancies; 6. Placenta previa (after the 25th week); 7. Anaemia; 8. High blood pressure; 9. Muscle and joint pain; 10. Being overweight before pregnancy occurred (with body mass index (BMI) over 35);

11. Smoking; 12. Heart or lung problems; 13. Diabetes.

If any of the abovementioned applies to you, I recommend postponing exercise after giving birth.

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WORD FROM THE DOCTOR

Belly growth expands muscles and adapts them to their new state. However, with some pregnant women, muscles located under the skin of the belly, from the sternum to the pelvis, fail to accompany its growth. In this case, they can begin to separate, causing a condition known as diastasis.

Diastasis occurs in 30% of woman who are pregnant or just gave birth. Discovery of this condition usually happens during a medical check-up, but one can also notice it when lying down with legs bent at the knees and head lifted upright. It can be seen in the area around the bellybutton, as a softer, more swollen region in which you can make a finger imprint. Additionally, pain can occur down the midline of the abdomen.

ADVICE Diastasis is a condition that requires special care. You can still exercise, but you need to pay attention not to build up the intra-abdominal pressure. The increase could cause separation between the muscles. This is why it is advised to always exercise alongside a professional who is experienced in working with pregnant women. After birth, you should get up from bed across your hip, using your hands in order not to strain your abdominal muscles.

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In some cases, the muscles are separated along the midline of the body, which requires special attention and specific choice of exercises

With safe and carefully chosen pilates exercises for core strengthening, you will reduce the risk of diastasis, and even if it does appear, strong muscles will prevent it from progressing. Exercises should then be modified. You should avoid those that require lifting your head, shoulders or both legs at the same time from a lying position. You should always keep one leg on the floor. It is not recommended to do exercises where the belly is turned downwards. Choose exercises that do not put strain on abdominal muscles to prevent diastasis from worsening.


Pilates workouts develop awareness on movement and ensure the control over activities of muscles. Person doing pilates should establish and assume a position in which they can breathe normally and feel no discomfort. This position is called neutral. In it, the muscle force and gravity have an optimal effect on the spine and joints. During pregnancy, as the baby and the belly grow, the way the body adapts to the neutral is altered since the centre of gravity shifts as well. It is important that pregnant women do not suck in their belly of flex muscles in the waist area, but also avoid retracting their pelvis. As the pregnancy advances, the focus should be more on the pelvic floor muscles.

Neutral position can be assumed while standing, sitting or lying down.

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EXERCISE RULES

I

f your gynaecologist thinks exercise will be beneficial to you, try to incorporate it into everyday activities. Both you and your baby will have numerous gains from it. Of course, you should first examine the rules stated bellow and try not to neglect any of them, even if you have done pilates or other physical activities in the past.

1. Exercise alongside an instructor who is experienced in working with pregnant women;

2. Avoid eating an hour and a half to two hours before exercising (but also refrain from exercising on an empty stomach);

3. Always keep a bottle of water close to you; 4. Empty your bladder before exercising; 5. Exercise an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes at most (including warm up and stretching at the end of the workout), and as the pregnancy advances, reduce this time to 35-45 minutes; If you don’t feel comfortable doing a certain exercise, adapt it to an easier version or skip it that day.

6. The room in which you are exercising should be clean, airy, not too hot or too cold and naturally lit, if possible;

7. Work out either barefoot or in non-slip socks, avoid trainers as they constrain foot muscles;

8. Clothes you exercise in should be made of cotton, avoid anything tight; investing in a good sports bra will also make exercising more comfortable.

All exercises should be done with ease and without intense straining. Your body will always signal what feels comfortable and how far it can go at any given moment. 12


PILATES PRINCIPLES

Y

ou will be much more successful at exercising if you apply the principles of pilates. That’s why you should get to know them! It can be difficult for beginners to focus on all aspects of exercising, but over time or with instructor’s support, everything will quickly fall into place.

CONTROL Be aware of the movements at each moment, paying attention that you don’t compensate the inability to do something with another body part.

CONCENTRATION When performing an exercise, focus on what you are doing. Use your mind actively throughout the entire workout.

FLOW Transition from one position to the other should be smooth, always in tune with breathing.

CENTERING Be aware of including core muscles while exercising. Don’t suck in your belly like you did before pregnancy, but focus on activating pelvic floor muscles.

BREATHING Be conscious of each inhale and exhale, adapting them to the exercise. PRECISION Make sure to do the moves with precision, from the begging to the final position.

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BREATHING

R

egardless of how important breathing is – after all, we begin our lives with our first breath and end it with our last – a few people pay active attention to it. Proper breathing strengthens immunity and boosts energy levels. This makes going through all the stages of pregnancy and childbirth much easier. Incorrect breathing can be a cause of many medical issues. Just remember how irregular our breathing gets in stressful situations, which leads to muscle spasms that can contribute to back pain. Proper breathing can be used to relax muscles and relieve bad nerves and anxiety. Breathing is something you should keep in mind during pregnancy, as it allows healthy energy intake, while ensuring your child has access to everything they need, as well as a calm developmental journey.

BREATHING TECHNIQUES ABDOMINAL BREATHING is done by contracting the diaphragm, when the belly visibly expands and shrinks. This way, the organs in the abdominal cavity are being massaged, while organs in the pelvic area become more relaxed. This type of breathing is also called belly or diaphragmatic breathing. CHEST BREATHING involves inhaling slowly and deeply through the nose and exhaling through mouth that’s slightly open, without pressure. The abdomen remains still, while the chest rises and lowers. COMBINED BREATHING involves focus on activating the intercostal muscles while breathing through the chest. This type of breathing is deep and controlled – with each inhale, the ribcage expands to its sides, while each exhale engages the muscles that extend the spine upwards. When doing this type of breathing, it feels like every inhale strengthens intercostal muscles, while every exhale aligns the spine. Pilates utilises combined breathing, which is all-encompassing and affects the inner organ muscles – bowels, stomach, uterus, ovaries – i.e. the musculature of the central part of your body or the core. Beginners and even more experienced practitioners might lift their shoulders or pause their breath while starting a new move, but this can easily be mastered and proper breathing becomes second nature. I like to tell to my clients: once you learn how to breathe properly, you are already half way there. 14


Breathing exercise Sit comfortably on the floor (cross-legged), on a ball or a chair without a back. Place your hands below your chest, so the tips of your middle fingers touch each other right below the sternum. Slowly breathe in through your nose, trying not to lift your shoulders. You will feel your ribs expanding outwards and your fingers separating. Exhale at the same pace through slightly open mouth. You will feel your ribs shrinking and returning to the initial position, while your fingers will be touching again. Never do sudden or forced exhales. Imagine your spine elongating as if you were growing taller. You can close your eyes while doing this exercise. When you are sure you are using your ribs and intercostal muscles without lifting your shoulders or holding your breath, lower your arms next to your body or place them on your knees and continue breathing this way for at least three to five minutes. When your breathing stabilises, slowly add counting. Start from five! That means inhaling while counting to five and exhaling at the same pace, without holding your breath. Repeat several times, try breathing while counting to six then continue doing the same until you get to ten.

Proper breathing is beneficial for your insides – you can feel the energy flowing through your body as you do it.

When breathing while counting, try repeating each step several times, improving the quality of your inhales and exhales.

You can do breathing exercises throughout your pregnancy as a warm up before working out. Needless to say, it is recommended to do them even when you are past your pregnancy. Keep in mind that improving the quality of breathing improves the quality of life.

15


WARM UP

J

ust like with any type of physical activity, it is incredibly important to warm up when exercising during pregnancy. Under no circumstances should you skip it! This way, your body will reach optimal temperature, while the joints and spine will be prepared for the upcoming physical activity. WARM UP EXERCISEs should be done in each trimester, but always adapted to the present condition. As the pregnancy advances, you gain more weight while losing stability. This is why the intensity of WARM UP EXERCISEs should be gradually reduced. WARM UP EXERCISE can entail:

1. Breathing exercises; 2. Exercises for activating vertebrates; 3. Exercises for activation of the pelvis; 4. Exercises for warming up small joints (hands, feet); 5. Light cardio training (walking, light dancing, etc.). WARM UP EXERCISEs should take eight to ten minutes.

If you consider yourself to be quite energetic, have been exercising prior to pregnancy and would prefer a more demanding workout, feel free to incorporate cardio into your warm up, such as stepper, treadmill, cross-trainer or stationary bicycle. But don’t go overboard! This shouldn’t resemble the cardio workout you practiced before becoming pregnant.

16


DON’T OVERSTRAIN During warm up (and the rest of the workout) you should avoid getting too sweaty or having your pulse racing too much. You should be able to speak while doing exercises without running out of breath. Ideal pulse during pregnancy should not exceed 135-140 bpm. Pushing your body too hard is not recommended. This is why you should drink plenty of water and exercise with a professional, who will be able to determine if your pulse is too high, if you are sweating too much or getting red in the face. Blood volume increases during pregnancy in order to provide blood flow to uterus. This way, the baby is provided with everything it needs for growth and development. Intense exercise can lead to increased blood flow to the peripheral parts of the body, which may reduce blood circulation to the central part of the body and the foetus. More is not better for you or your baby!

Swimming is an ideal environment for physical activities, but if you decide to swim in a pool, make sure the water is clean and that there aren’t a lot of people around, especially small children (due to contracting infections). The sea is ideal for both you and your baby. In case you have an opportunity to swim in the sea, enjoy! Cycling can also be used as a warm up activity, but in case you’re not using stationary bike, keep in mind that your balance changes as your belly gets bigger, so you should be careful not to fall.

STRETCHING

V

arious studies have found that stretching is an integral and important part of every workout. By doing proper stretching, you improve your flexibility, which reduces chances of injury of tendons, ligaments and muscle fibre. Furthermore, stretching increases the mobility within the joints and ensures that muscles around it reach their full capacity. In the last stages of pregnancy, it is important to incorporate leg, calf and back muscles stretches into your routine. If the muscles are flexible enough, it will be easier for them to handle the weight gain that occurs during pregnancy.

Pay attention to the quality of the water you drink.

During the last trimester, try not to force yourself to your maximum capacity when stretching, as the body becomes more flexible due to hormonal activity. Pay special attention during stretching exercises that include the upper body, because the baby is already big and there isn’t a lot of space left for it to move.

17


FIRST TRIMESTER M

any things happen during the earliest stage of pregnancy – from the suspicion you’re pregnant, to the joyful discovery once the pregnancy is confirmed, to morning sickness and loss of energy. Your body starts to show first signs of change.

WORD FROM THE DOCTOR During the first trimester, your body is adapting to pregnancy. Hormonal production causes certain physical and emotional changes. In order to satisfy the needs of the embryo and secure the growth of placenta, metabolism increases by 10% or even 20%, which will also be reflected in acceleration of your vital functions. You will have sudden mood changes, cravings for certain foods or intolerance of others. Your libido might change as well.

ADVICE You should start a healthy diet from the moment you determine you’re pregnant. Increase your protein and saccharide intake, which are much needed for baby’s nutrition and proper formation of placenta. Try to drink at least eight glasses of water a day. During the first trimester, all of your child’s vital organs will start developing. That is why you should avoid cigarettes, alcohol and large doses of caffeine, but also exposure to stress. Make sure you get 18 enough sleep and rest.

However, many women don’t feel any discomfort during the first trimester. If you are one of them, feel free to do whatever you did prior to pregnancy, provided it doesn’t require extreme straining. If you exercised before becoming pregnant, continue exercising, but also consult your gynaecologist and pay attention to what your body is telling you. You might feel fatigue after working out, instead of having an energy boost. In that case, try to reduce the intensity of your workouts or switch up your routine. Any strain that leads to fatigue and exhaustion will additionally consume the energy and nutrients intended for the foetus. If you didn’t engage in any physical activities before becoming pregnant, don’t start now. Light walking can be your exercise of choice, because your body will already be working overtime even without physical activities. After the first trimester, and only if your gynaecologists agrees, you can start with light exercise.


Main aims of exercise during the first trimester are:

1. Strengthening core muscles (abdomen, back and pelvic floor); 2. Improving the quality of breathing; 3. Increasing muscle resistance, in pilates referred to as stamina; 4. Working on muscle memory, i.e. getting used to certain moves which will be perfected over time, making the workout much easier.

19


1. UP & DOWN 1 WARM UP EXERCISE

Sit on your heels, with your knees slightly apart. Your arms should be relaxed with your palms pressing the surface. Your head should be lifted from the floor so that your spine and your neck are aligned. Your relaxed arms should be on the sides of your head.

This exercise helps expand the ribcage, and it also prepares the vertebrates for the upcoming exercises. You can do this move throughout the pregnancy.

1. Take a deep breath in and out several times, like you did during breathing exercises. Try to keep your shoulders relaxed and make sure your ribcage only extends sideways.

Repeat the exercise six times.

If you have knee problems, spread them a little wider and place a double mat underneath them. In case your glutes are not touching your heels and this position does not feel comfortable, place a cushion between your glutes and your heels.

2. While inhaling, lift your chest and look straight ahead, opening up your ribcage. While exhaling, return to the original position by pushing your glutes on your heels.

20


2. ROLL UP Lie on your back, with your legs bent at the knees and your feet separated as wide as your hips. If you feel uncomfortable keeping your knees at the same width, place a ball between them. Place your palms behind your head so they are only lightly holding it, without pulling. Keep your elbows within your field of vision (meaning you can see them without turning your head).

This exercise helps strengthen the abdominal muscles. Repeat the routine 10 to 15 times, always coordinating it with inhales and exhales.

1. Breathe in through your nose with your head still on the floor.

CHALLENGE

2. While exhaling through your mouth, lift yourself by flexing your ribs towards your hips, while slightly sucking in your tummy (avoid lifting yourself forcefully and don’t put a lot of pressure on your spine against the surface). While inhaling, return to the starting position without fully relaxing your core muscles or curving the lower back upwards.

If you want to engage the muscles in your lower abs and pelvis, you can lift your toes from the floor each time your pull upwards.

21


3. CRISSCROSS Lie on your back with your legs bent at the knees and your feet separated as wide as your hips. Put one palm into the other and use them to hold your head, while your elbows remain in your field of vision.

The purpose of this exercise is to strengthen the obliques. Repeat the routine 10 to 15 times on one side, then do the same for the other side.

CHALLENGE 1. Inhale through your nose with your head still on the floor.

Before doing the diagonal lift, pull your head and both of your shoulder blades from the floor, then turn sideways from this position. Note that your chin should not be pulled towards the sternum.

A more advanced variation of this exercise includes extending your arms and staying in the final position for 10 to 20 seconds. 22

2. While exhaling, lift yourself diagonally to your side while keeping your head in your palms. Pay attention that you don’t push your elbow further than your shoulder, because this stretches shoulder muscles instead of the obliques – which is not the aim of this exercise.


1. TRENING Odrolaj se (2) 10–15 ponavljanja

Leptir (3) 10–15 ponavljanja

Most (10) 5–6 ponavljanja

Zarolaj se (4) 8–12 ponavljanja

Žabac (7) 6–10 ponavljanja Ženski sklek (11) 8–10 ponavljanja Zmija (14) 8–10 ponavljanja

94

Pre treninga zagrevajte se 8 do 10 minuta (hodanje, vožnja bicikla i sl.).


Podigni se 1 (1) 5–6 ponavljanja

Otvaranje s čučnjem (18) 6–8 ponavljanja Iskorak s tvistom (19) 8–10 ponavljanja

Trougao (24) 30 sekundi

Otklon (22) 3–4 ponavljanja

Tvist kolenom (23) 30 sekundi

Istegni leđa 1 (21) 1 ponavljanje

95


O

ver the years I have had many clients who used Pilates not only in preparation for being a mother and during the pregnancy process itself but also to assist the delivery process itself, and with that knowledge of their body and the tools gained with the method of Pilates they have also discovered a highly successful path to recovering their pre-pregnancy health and appearance in a simple, safe and effective way. Tamara has been with us since 2004 and we have watched her develop become a mother of two, a business owner and an excellent Pilates educator. Her background in Health & Fitness, appetite for knowledge and her accompanying skills makes her the perfect person to write this book on Pilates and Pregnancy.

ost pregnant women go through typical pregnancy without any complications. On the other hand, this condition can sometimes be accompanied by prejudice and misconceptions, where people often lack understanding for a woman who wants to remain active in pregnancy. These could not be further from the truth – physical activities, together with proper and balanced diet is the key to having a healthy child. FIT – PREGNANCY PILATES is one of the finest examples of how you can take care of your health during pregnancy through balanced exercise. Future mums, get moving and enjoy working out and being pregnant! Dr Zoran Marić, Gynaecologist and Obstetrician

E

xercising together can be both fun and useful. New book from this series brings numerous ideas and suggestions on how to keep yourself and your baby in shape. Excuses like not having enough spare time won’t cut it anymore, because now you can work out with your baby, at home or in the park. Moreover, the book contains a number of light and simple exercises for the baby, which will help develop their strength, motor activities and movement coordination.

T

here is no better physical exercise than pilates. What a good cookbook is for the kitchen is what this book is for working out during pregnancy. The author unveils small secrets of great masters, which will help you learn pilates techniques in no time. With them, you will be able to enjoy your pregnancy to its very end. Tatjana Papić, international law professor, mother of Koča (7) and Ida (1)

I

tried all the exercises described in this book by doing pilates with Tamara Ratković throughout my entire pregnancy. I felt great! Pilates has become a part of my everyday routine and my lifestyle. Ana Karić Ljesar, Bodin’s mother

Tamara Ratković

M

FIT – PREGNANCY PILATES

Michael King, MK Pilates Institute

... coming soon

Tamara Ratković

pregnancy pilates

Photo: Dalibor Danilović, Sensa magazine

Tamara Ratković is a kinesiology professor, expert on movement in sports, shiatsu practitioner and instructor of dance and several other fitness programs. She is the head of the aerobics and fitness club Star, aimed at women who enjoy these techniques and are looking for more than just a workout – they want a body that is nimble and functional. Pilates is her preferred choice when it comes to physical activity for pregnant women. This harmonious technique consists of safe and effective exercises that improve flexibility, balance, resistance and concentration – helping the body prepare for pregnancy and recovery after childbirth.

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