The main thing I was worried about this pregnancy was the return of the dreaded SPD (symphysis pubis dysfunction) or Pelvic Girdle Pain as is it also referred to. In both my previous pregnancies I felt like I had been kicked square on the pubic bone from about four months onwards, the pain getting more and more tender and intense the more round I became. Towards the third trimester I was walking like John Wayne and the thought of making any kind of journey let alone carrying something weighty filled me with fear. Just turning over in bed required deep breaths and much wincing. Not fun. Anyone familiar with SPD will know exactly what I’m talking about. In fact, there are some mums who suffer such extreme pain that they are forced to use crutches or even a wheelchair! In that respect I realise I was relatively lucky. In my second pregnancy I was so desperate for relief that I visited an osteopath once a week who required me to sit on her hands while she manipulated my sitting bones and i desperately tried not to fart. This definitely helped but only for a day after treatment at most.
Third time round, I had resigned myself to the fact that my pelvis would probably be worse than ever… But guess what?! Touch wood, caress lucky paw, cross every extremity, six months in and it hasn’t come back! I do get the odd twinge and I can’t push a box with my foot but I walk briskly without any pain and there’s no worrying about getting up out of a chair etc. How could this be now that I am a mature woman with a crap pelvic floor and a womb that has been pummelled by three infants? Surely my pelvis should be more dilapidated than ever. The only thing that I can put my finger on that is different this time round is Floor Barre. Yes, i have been exercising and as a sports un-enthusiast actually *gasp* looking forward to it and *whisper* enjoying it.
Me ACTUALLY enjoying a Floore-Barre session.
Floor Barre is essentially ballet lying down. Yes, I love the lying down part but the best bit is that I find all the accompanying deep breathing incredibly relaxing and the lengthening, stretching and toning really invigorating and uplifting. After a session I feel lengthened, strengthened and full of beans and the best thing is that I can feel my bum muscles tightening and see more defined muscles in my legs after six weekly sessions.
When I got to about four months pregnant I felt the SPD symptoms coming on but after a couple of weeks they seemed to disappear. I can only suppose that the Floor Barre exercises that focus on correcting posture, working the pelvic floor and the muscles that support the pelvis all kicked in at around this point.
I feel so lucky to have been introduced to my Floor Barre teacher Nina Thilas-Mohs who trained with the Floor-Barre founder Zena Rommett in New York. Nina comes to my flat once a week and teaches my friend and I for one hour before school pick up. As I started the Floor Barre sessions in the earliest stages of my pregnancy, Nina adapted the exercises to suit a pregnant lady so the version of the exercises I do now are much more gentle than normal Floor Barre ( apparently I’ll be sweating by the time she’s finished with me when I’m not pregnant anymore – yikes!) In the pictures here, I am about five months pregnant but now I’m getting larger we’ve started using wedges under my back and to support my bump when I’m lying on my side. I did pregnancy Pilates in my last pregnancy which didn’t help at all with the SPD and I never really got the hang of it but with this exercise I feel all the moves are much more instinctive and Nina is a fantastic teacher. It’s mainly leg work and when you’re not pregnant lots of core and stomach work. Obviously there are no guarantees and I can only surmise that Floor Barre has helped me but I would thoroughly recommend Floor Barre as something to take up before you get pregnant to strengthen your muscles and possibly help counteract SPD. Worst case scenario you get a tight bottom and great legs. I fully intend to carry on as far into my pregnancy as I can and will definitely be resuming classes again as soon after giving birth as I can. For those who know me: NO, I HAVE NOT BEEN ABDUCTED BY ALIENS AND REPLACED BY AN ANDROID. This is seriously the first exercise I have ever enjoyed. If you live in London and you’re not pregnant I would thoroughly recommend trying out one of Nina’s full on Floor-Barre classes in Marylebone and if you fancy a personally tailored one on one with Nina you can contact her here.
Doing a posture improving and muscle strengthening plié (there is a bit of standing up)
NB: ALWAYS CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE YOU EMBARK ON ANY EXERCISE WHEN PREGNANT. OVER AND OUT.