exercise for pregnant women

Yogalates exercise for pregnant women

A fusion between yoga and pilates, yogalates is a safe and effective exercise for pregnant women explains fitness instructor Rachel Gaffey.

As the name suggests, pregnancy yogalates is a fusion between pregnancy yoga and pregnancy pilates. The exercise technique combines the benefits of the strength training of pilates and the flexibility of yoga.

How does it work?

It is helpful to firstly explain how yoga and pilates can benefit a pregnant woman. Pregnancy yoga works on creating space in the mum-to-be’s body, while releasing any tension that accumulates in your muscles. It helps to lengthen and make space in tight areas particularly between the ribs and hips. Pregnancy yoga can improve a pregnant woman’s posture as their body shape changes to accommodate a growing baby. It is fantastic for working on breathing techniques also; as these will benefit mums when it comes to labour and delivery.

Pregnancy pilates can help to keep a mother-to-be’s body strong as they hold their baby in over the course of their pregnancy. By the end of pregnancy, on average, mums are carrying two extra stone and a lot of this is held in the pelvis. With this in mind, pregnancy pilates focuses a lot on bum, thigh and hip strength. We include squats, lunges and upper-body work in our classes with a firm focus on strength, combining this with breath-work.

Spine strengthening

Both pregnancy pilates and pregnancy yoga help to keep the spine flexible to avoid any tightness and stiffness, a common pregnancy ailment. Both exercises work mindfully on the hips, another part of the body that comes under pressure during pregnancy. And in every class of both pregnancy pilates and yoga, you will work on pelvic floor strength. You need to have a strong yet flexible pelvic floor, as this is what holds your baby in, and it’s where your baby will push into to get out. A strong yet flexible pelvic floor is vital for your postnatal recovery.

Ideally, you should work on your strength three times per week to encourage a pain free pregnancy and to help your body change and accommodate your growing bump.

The perfect combination

Pregnancy yogalates combines the best bits of yoga and pilates. It is ideal for mums who can only get to class maybe once a week and want to obtain the strength offered in a pilates class, while at the same time getting the flexibility that pregnancy yoga offers.

exercise for pregnant women

Throughout the class, your teacher will guide you through a series of exercises, mixing between yoga and pilates. Classes start with a quick check in with the mums-to-be in the room, followed by some breathing work and then your teacher will start to warm up your muscles, building to the exercises planned for that day. All classes finish with a few minutes of deep relaxation. This is the magical part of the class where your body and your baby get to absorb all the benefits of your practise.

Expect to leave your pregnancy yogalates class feeling fabulous. Any tightness or stiffness will have disappeared from your body. You will have a satisfied feeling that you and your baby have had a good workout.

Benefits of yogalates

Pregnancy yoga, pilates and yogalates is suitable for mums-to-be from 12 weeks right up until you deliver your baby. As a mum of three, I have first-hand experience of the impact that pregnancy has on your body. And as a pregnancy yoga and pilates specialist, everyday I see the benefits of incorporating yoga, pilates and yogalates into your exercise routine.

• Mums regularly report that coming to class keeps their bodies free from tightness or stiffness for up to two days after a class. When your body is strong, flexible and pain free it is much easier to enjoy your pregnancy.

• Doing this type of strength work three times a week will not only help your pregnancy, but it will also help your labour, birth and delivery as you have built strength, stamina and practiced breathwork throughout your pregnancy.

Where can I do it?

To find a class suitable for you, check with your local yoga or pilates studio, and make sure that you find a teacher who is trained to take care of pregnant students.

To find out more about Rachel, contact: hello@mywellbeing.ie

More like this:

Yoga during pregnancy
Keeping fit through pregnancy
Maximum nutrition in pregnancy

Ask Tracey

Midwife Tracey Donegan answers your questions about pregnancy and birth

Q When should I have my first pregnancy scan? And how many scans should I get throughout my pregnancy?

Your first scan is known as your dating scan and is routine in all hospitals. Most mums will have this scan at their booking visit, which can be anywhere between 12-18 weeks. The earlier the scan the more accurate it will be. If you have experienced recurrent miscarriages some hospitals will scan you earlier. Contact your antenatal clinic for more information. In Ireland, most women will have two scans in a healthy pregnancy – a dating scan and an anomaly scan at around 20 weeks. However, some units provide a dating scan only. Private scans are also available in most cities and many parents use these services for additional reassurance and to find out the sex of their baby.



Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….