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Pilates COREterly

Spring 2012

Pilates and …

Getting New Moms Confident and
Back in Shape

By Leah Stewart

Confidence; it’s a tricky one. The truth is, confidence ebbs and flows. Some days it floods us with self-assurance, while other days we begin to doubt and question ourselves and our capabilities. But it can truly become a significant issue when lack of confidence stops us dead in our tracks. And the worst part is, when there is an absence of self-confidence it begins to have an affect on those around us, particularly our family and close friends.

Although all human beings battle with these rises and falls in self-confidence, mothers, especially first-time ones, face a constant battle of fear, doubts, decisions, worries and self-sacrifice mixed with joy, elation, giving, pride and unconditional love. It is this special group that I want to focus on in this article.

This may sound like old news – we all know that Pilates is very safe and effective at facilitating healing and helping us get back into shape after birth – but how often do we discuss the new mother's mindset? Moms of infants are often sleep-deprived, stressed, and unsure of themselves, particularly first-time moms. They often feel pressured to immediately get back their pre-pregnancy bodies, look fabulous in their pre-birth jeans, or flawless in a bathing suit just weeks after giving birth. We see recently pregnant celebrities on magazine covers and on television appearing thin, svelte, and like they never gave birth, giving us an unrealistic view of what our bodies should look like post-pregnancy… Many mothers struggle with this. Some see it as an impossible goal, not even giving exercise a thought, while others may feel so "out of their bodies" that they lack the confidence to start working out again.

There is undoubtedly, in my opinion, a direct correlation between Pilates and self-confidence. And when it comes to mothers, a meaningful Pilates practice can sometimes reset the confidence button in a woman who is struggling to accept, love and understand her changed body as she navigates her demanding and exciting role of being mom. As our new mother clients continue their progression past the immediate post-natal phase, we should stress to them that the true importance of their Pilates practice is to properly facilitate the process of fully healing after pregnancy and birth, and regain the balance, strength and awareness that are required to take on the daily, demanding tasks involved with being a mom, rather than worrying so much about the flatness of this and the tightness of that. Gaining better body balance, control, harmony, resilience and awareness, can translate into a new kind of self-acceptance, and an appreciation for the individuality and uniqueness of their body.

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When they begin to truly rediscover and learn about their motherly body, they often become more accepting and proud of this new body; a boost in self-confidence emerges from participating in a Pilates practice that emphasizes the importance of feeling good first.

Pilates can not only change their bodies, but it can change their ways of thinking about their post-pregnancy bodies. I began to see behind the veil of wishes for flat abs and a lifted bottom to what was the true desire of many of these motherly women – the desire to feel good, to feel strong, and to feel proud of their bodies and in their minds. And ultimately, to experience the maintenance and even the resurgence of self-confidence.

As mothers we often look into the faces of our children and see inspiration and motivation smiling back at us. But imagine this: When we live life with a steady sense of self-confidence we will see in our children's faces a reflection of our own inspiration and motivation brightly smiling back at us, brimming with belief and appreciation.