Pilates in Pregnancy with Bree Turner

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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.

PIRIFORMIS STRETCH
A stretch to release the pyramid-shaped muscle in your pelvis that gets tight during pregnancy, this also eases lower back pain.

1. Lying on your back, propping your upper body with pillows if it’s more comfortable, bend your knees and place your feet on the floor hip-width apart.

2. Lift your right knee and place your ankle on your left thigh, just above your left knee.

3. Take your right hand and press gently on your right thigh. Breathe and hold for 20–30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.

STRADDLE STRETCH

This exercise is an inner-thigh stretch and hip opener—very important for pregnant women!

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.

1. Open your legs wide enough to accommodate your belly. Place an exercise ball between them and rest your hands on it. Sit up straight, on the very top of your sit bones, and draw your shoulder blades down your back.

2. Exhale as you engage your abdominals and reach forward, rolling the ball away from you and stretching your spine. Then, inhale and draw your shoulder blades down your back as you roll back up, lining up the spine over the hips. Repeat 4–8 times.

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

BIRD DOG
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.

1. Kneel on the floor with your hands shoulder-width apart and your knees hip-width apart.

2. Engage your abdominals and exhale as you lift the right hand and extend the left leg. Inhale, return the arm and leg back to the floor, and repeat with the opposite limbs. Repeat 4–8 times.

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

Use this exercise to relax the spine, stretch the muscles in your chest, and realign the bones around your chest and shoulders.

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.

BRIDGING
Strengthen your buttocks and the muscles on the backs of your thighs.

Lie on your back, propping your upper body with pillows if it’s more comfortable. Bend your knees and place your feet on the floor, hip-width apart. Place your arms by your sides. Exhale and scoop your belly by pulling your navel towards your spine. Inhale and press your hips up. Exhale, keeping your belly scooped, and roll down one vertebra at a time. Repeat 4–8 times.

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.


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