Like prenatal yoga, Pilates can help you connect with your body during pregnancy—and reduce your aches and pains. A system of strengthening and stretching exercises created nearly 100 years ago, Pilates is a complete workout that concentrates on your “powerhouse”—the stomach, hips, lower back, and buttocks—where your body needs to be strongest to support a growing baby and maintain good posture. Pilates also improves flexibility and tones the pelvic floor, helping you stay fit and get ready to give birth. Check out these great Pilates stretches for pregnancy, demonstrated by actress Bree Turner.
*As with any exercise program, check with your care provider before you begin.
By Kristin McGee and Kristin Werner
Photography by Mark Madeo
Styling by Lyn Heineken
Hair & Makeup by Meaganne McCandess
Bree’s Wearing: Japanese Weekend Vintage Knit Nursing Cami in Aqua, $48, www.japaneseweekend.com; Lululemon Wunder Under Crop in Lagoon, $78, www.lululemon.com; Barefoot Yoga Original Eco Mat in Coral, $72, www.barefootyoga.com
A bit about Bree
On her pregnancy style: I always pictured myself [pregnant] in big muumuus and tent dresses as some big earth mama. But I put those things on and they just made me feel fat, not pregnant and sexy. So I decided that more form-fitting things make me feel better.
On pressure to bounce back: I want to give myself some time. With what I do for a living and for as long as I’ve been doing it—what a break it is for me to just be! I’m not Angelina Jolie, by any means, so I don’t have people chasing me in cars, but when pictures are taken of me on the street, I just think, Thank God I brushed my hair today!
On the media’s skinny-mom obsession: I see pictures of so-and-so 4 weeks after having the baby and she’s already size 0 and it’s like Whoa! It’s a little crazy-making for me, so I try to curb my intake of all that.
A stretch to release the pyramid-shaped muscle in your pelvis that gets tight during pregnancy, this also eases lower back pain.
Sit facing a wall with your legs wide and extend your heels to the wall. Place your hands on the floor behind your hips and elongate the spine vertically and exhale. Keep your knees and toes facing upward as you stretch your legs sideways.
SPINE STRETCH FORWARD
This is a wonderful way to lift and tone the pelvic floor, again, as well as stretch the spine, lower back, and shoulders.
Bree’s Wearing: Japanese Weekend D&A Sleeveless X Front Nursing Top in Violet, $52, www.japaneseweekend.com; Fit2B Mom Colorblock Capri in Slate/Rosebud, $64, www.fit2bmom.com
This safely strengthens the core and back muscles without you having to lie on your belly. It challenges your balance and builds strength in the buttocks, legs, arms, and shoulders.
Bree’s Wearing: Old Navy Women’s Long Layering Tank in Papaya Pop, $8, www.oldnavy.com; Hyde Drawstring Pant in Burnt Orange, $69, www.yogahyde.com
ANGELS IN THE SNOW
Lie on your back with a foam roller under your spine, supporting you from head to tail. Place your feet a little wider than hip distance and your arms down at your sides. Pull your shoulder blades down as you drag your arms slowly up along the floor, breathing deeply. Pause as you open your arms to a T shape. Then, keeping your arms heavy, move them over your head by your ears. Continue breathing as you return your arms back to your side. Repeat 3–5 times.
Strengthen your buttocks and the muscles on the backs of your thighs.
Kristin McGee counts models, stars, and athletes among her fitness clients. The Fila Yoga Ambassador, she’s been on Good Morning America and The Tyra Banks Show as a fitness expert.
Kristin Werner, M.A., teaches Pilates and yoga at various locations, including the esteemed office of Pregnancy! A former gymnast, she loves the strength and flexibility Pilates brings.