Dancing Mama – Pilates Balls & Posture

Bouncing for Victory!

The best purchase by far was a pilates ball…not originally intended for pilates or my post-natal fitness routine – I bought this as I was planning a home birth, and all sorts of bouncing and hip rotations on the ball are supposed to induce birth.  Not for me – sitting on the ball during labour just didn’t have the desired effect…but that’s another story.  However, post birth and we discover that aforementioned bouncing on ball whilst holding baby not only gives a mini work out, but also helps to send Baby-O to sleep!

During my pregnancy I really worked on my posture. When I slouched everything squished inside too much and I got indigestion easier and couldn’t breath so well…I thought that by sitting without too much support at my desk at work or in the evening at. home etc. would stand me in good stead post pregnancy.  Not to be as my back muscles felt weaker.  I assume due to everything starting to shift back into place.  I also now really notice that following long periods of breastfeeding, and sleeping whilst feeding for long periods of time (I just can’t stay awake!), the top of the lumbar region of my back is really struggling and I’ve now started physio for it.

I was trying to use the ball on a daily basis to start strengthening my back again and now trying to be more mindful when I’m feeding – e.g. not slumping back into the sofa, or slouching down or over towards baby.  I’m trying to focus on drawing my shoulder blades down my back as much as possible and getting myself comfy before feeding. I’ve noticed this is hardest when LO is in a screaming fit and I’m trying to get boob to mouth as quickly as possible before she completely melts down. As I got into month two I took the (rare) moments of screaming in my stride and put myself a little bit before her needs to make sure I’m properly set up before feeding.  Besides what’s two extra minutes when I’ve got to look after my health to get stronger again for her?

My little pilates ball workout routine goes like this (with rough estimates of repetition, and trying to achieve daily):
  • 25 bounces, squeezing up pelvic floor and buttocks as I go
  • 25 hip swings side to side – I think pendulum, squeezing either side of the body at the waist as I contract to tone my waistline, and a little bounce through centre, working the legs a little too.
  • 25 pelvic isolations forward and back – as I tilt my pelvis forward squeezing buttocks, and working lower back muscles as I tilt backwards
  • 12 smooth pelvic circles round the clock each way without bouncing, and then with a gentle bounce at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock pelvic tilts
  • 25 standing ‘preparations’ – these are similar to the action of the initial moment of standing from a seated position.  With momentum a bounce rocking backwards on the ball and then a bounce rocking forward and pushing up as if about to stand. I have a rhythm playing out in my head bounce, back, bounce forward with these 3 variations:
Variation 1: At the point of standing I squeeze my butt and push the pelvis slightly forward
Variation 2: Focus on the thigh muscles helping me up.
Variation 3: each time I bounce up I switch to pushing more into right leg then left leg, so I’m kind of bouncing to either side.

I’ve actually found the last one helps when I’ve finished feeding the baby last thing at night, she has fallen asleep, and I need to do that ninja move of standing up from the sofa without changing the sleeping position of this light sleeper whatsoever to take her to her crib.  The unique talent of standing without the heave ho action, nor needing to push up with my hands. Yes.  I have got skillz.

I checked the correct ball size to suit my height and got an anti-burst ball – the knees should be lower than the hips when sitting on it. I also found an electric pump easier to blow the ball up – it came with the birthing pool pack(!) if you can get your hands on one.

Here’s a little video of the pilates ball at work (sorry it’s a bit dark – it’s the late night low light to help Baby-O to sleep!)…