Exercising on the Pilates Reformer Through Pregnancy and During Recovery from a C-Section

Heaslip Family

Having a little fun on the Reformer

Alexis and I’s Fitness Journey through her 2nd Pregnancy

I am SO happy to announce an addition to the Fit to be Trained fitness family!   My client Alexis just gave birth to a beautiful bouncing baby girl! Congratulations to you Alexis and your loving family! 

Should we Exercise PRIOR to C-section? YESSS!!!!  You should have an exercise program whether you are pregnant or not, man or women…Duh!! 😊

Alexis worked out through her entire pregnancy….2 days prior to her scheduled C section, she was sitting on an exercise ball for comfort and mobility in the hips.  The large ball (a highly suggested inexpensive purchase) allowed for a deep seat for the pelvis and bend in the knees. We added exercises with light weights, bands and other unique tools to keep her conditioned for her upcoming birth event in only 48 hours.  Mobility and flexibility are always a must, so we made sure to flex and rotate all her joints to promote comfort and relief from swelling.

Alexis and I have worked out together for 7 years and this is her 2nd child, (1st birth was natural). She is no stranger to many forms of exercise; however, I suspect due to her dance background, Alexis LOVES the Pilates Reformer.  I was able to keep her on the Reformer almost until the birth.  Although, it is important to know that I do not allow my clients to lie on their back during our workouts in third trimester of pregnancy because of the health of the baby.  (Another post for another day.)  Alexis could do plenty of other Reformer exercises seated and standing.  No problem!

Let’s talk about exercise AFTER C-section.

It is important to remember…

“Birth is probably the most physically demanding action many women are going to do.” Kelly Dean (Physical Therapist and founder of the Tummy Team.)

Always check with your doctor before starting back to exercise! Because of the high fluctuation of hormones after birth, our joints, ligaments, tendons, and muscles ALL loosen up and are lax.  So therefore, the risk for injury is higher.  With a C-section, there is an incision as well!   So obviously, caution is recommended. 

For the first few days/weeks Be careful getting up and down out of chairs and out of bed. Hint:  Dig the heels of your hands into your thighs and lean forward when standing to protect your incision.  Roll to your side in bed and flip your legs over to floor and then proceed slowly to stand.

Week 1 thru 6-8 weeks (and/or Doctor’s clearance) Start your deep restorative belly breathing and engaging pelvic floor and butt “squeezes” as soon as you can! Walk around. Build strength slowly.

Weeks 6-8 (and/or Doctor’s clearance) Start with easy going body weight exercises

Examples as follow:

Clam Shells – Heel Slides

Plenty of Isometrics and Pilates based exercises that can be done on a Ball, Mat, or Bench.  

Wall Sits and Chair Stands progressing to squats when ready

Week 12 You may start using Flex-bands and Tubing and then progressing to light weights (depending on your experience and Fitness level prior pregnancy.) 

Our Experience: I am proud to say that Alexis and I are weeks ahead of the suggested schedule above. Alexis came back after her 4th week in recovery.  We started with JUST doing upper body work on the Reformer with front and back rowing on a low spring and elevated on a box for comfort and to protect incision in low abdomen. We used light weights, bands and other tools seated on a large exercise ball for a deeper more comfortable seat with a wider foot stance. And we STRETCHED……….AHHHHHHHHH!

In her 2nd week back to training…Alexis is already doing footwork on the Reformer and accomplishing closed chain exercises (Hands and feet are in a constant fixed position. Example: Squat). It will be a few weeks or more before we are on to open chained exercises. (Feet and arms are NOT fixed in a stable position. Example: Feet in Straps).

3rd week back to training…Guess What?  We just accomplished feet in straps, chest press and other open chained exercises.   

4th week back to training (9 weeks after delivery)… Alexis is back to her old exercise routine and feeling like a new person.  I am ecstatic for her and her accomplishment to a quick and healthy recovery.  

All these factors depend on how each individual feels.  We all are at different levels of fitness, and we all recover differently.  You do what’s right for you!  Listen to your body and you will back into your pre-pregnancy shape in no time. 



Related Posts


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *