Ellis Harwood, previously a PR + Comms girl turned pre and postnatal Pilates specialist, Doula and all round positive birth advocate, believes that feeding ones spirit, training ones body and focusing ones mind is providing a solid foundation for self-satisfaction and fulfilment.
The body is always changing, whether it's working hard to grow and nurture a baby or conquer everyday life. She feels the power of Pilates goes above and beyond staying in shape, it relishes on deeper connection, enabling the body to heal, evolve and grow.
Since a very young age Ellis has been in awe and captivated by the way in which not only the body but mind changes and adapts throughout pregnancy to bring beautiful new life.
With no two birth experiences being the same yet always baring the shared goals of a healthy and positive birth, her aim is to encourage, empower and enrich the birthing experience by providing genuine support and care to both mothers and partners during a life changing period.
What are the key benefits of exercising when pregnant?
Reduce backaches, constipation, bloating and swelling
Boost your mood and energy levels
Help you sleep better
Prevent excess weight gain
Promote muscle tone, strength and endurance for labor
Other possible benefits:
A lower risk of gestational diabetes
A reduced risk of having a C-section
If you have never done Pilates before, is it okay to start when you find out you’re pregnant?
Absolutely! It’s never too early, nor to late in your pregnancy to start. Pilates exercises have several variations that can be scaled up or down depending on experience and competence, in which your instructor will judge and guide accordingly.
There are a lot of different Pilates classes out there – how do you decide on which one to attend?
First and foremost, I would encourage everyone to start with Mat Pilates to ensure the fundamentals of Pilates are understood and practiced before exploring equipment classes e.g. Reformer. Not only are the results better but the risk of injury is significantly reduced.
I believe the energy and expertise of the instructor play a huge role when choosing a class. I love teaching upbeat and high energy prenatal Mat Pilates ensuring I provide my clients the knowledge and comfort that everything they are doing is completely safe and adapted for pregnancy.
Finally, it’s very important to check that the instructor is pre/postnatally trained in order for safety not to be compromised.
How can pre-natal Pilates help with labour?
Prenatal Pilates focuses heavily on pelvic floor engagement/strengthening but also release which is hugely beneficial in labour as its essential for the pelvic floor to relax and ‘let go’, helping baby make their way down and out.
It’s very common for the pelvic floor to tense up when experiencing discomfort and nerves during labour, the Pilates breathing techniques also support the pelvic floor in relaxing and opening up.
What are your top tips for getting back into exercise after having a baby?
1. Don’t underestimate the importance of seeing a women’s health physio to check both your pelvic floor and diastasis (abdominal separation) before exercising.
2. Take it slow, you can do more harm than good by rushing into high impact movement.
3. Prioritize movement, not specifically for the physical benefits but more so the mental benefits. Hormones, lack of sleep and motherhood challenges can seem a whole lot lighter after a little exercise.
A final questions: if you could give one piece of advice to a new mum when it comes to exercise what would it be?
The hour or so that you ‘allow’ yourself to exercise is most likely to make up a huge percentage of your ‘you’ time. So, make sure you choose a form of movement that you enjoy, make the most of that time and do not let it be a chore.