Back in April, Kate Hudson announced that she is expecting her third child. At the time, she let fans in on how she was feeling: "If you’ve wondered why I’ve been so absent on my social channels it's because I have never been more sick! It was the most sick first trimester of all my children." Less than two months later, it's great to see that Hudson is out and about—and back in the gym again. Her longtime trainer Nicole Stuart, Pilates instructor and creator of the QE2 app, shared a photo on Instagram of Hudson, belly out, holding a set of dumbbells.
It's pretty well known that Hudson is a Pilates fanatic. She has been practicing it regularly for years, and is continuing to do so during her pregnancy, though Stuart tells SELF, "She's taking it easier and really slowing things down to a more moderate pace."
Doing Pilates during pregnancy can actually be really beneficial.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) encourages exercising during pregnancy, saying that if you're healthy and your pregnancy is normal, it's safe to exercise, and actually has lots of benefits. They suggest various forms like walking, swimming, stationary biking, and modified versions of yoga and Pilates. The organization really only advises against contact sports and activities with a high risk of falling. Otherwise (and as long as your doctor hasn't given you special instructions), you can stick with your regular workout routine.
Jessica Shepherd, M.D., ob/gyn and founder of HerViewpoint, an online women's health forum, tells SELF that since Pilates focuses on strengthening the core, it can actually be helpful during pregnancy. "[It can help] facilitate the growth of the abdominal muscles and stretching of those muscles during pregnancy. It promotes good posture as well," she says. "As you get further along, you start leaning more forward and can develop lordosis of the spine [arching of the lower back] to compensate for your [belly]. That puts more pressure on the back, and Pilates will help with that." Pilates also helps improve breathing, Shepherd adds, which "may help improve your ability to relax during the delivery process and focus on your breathing—which is a big part of it."
Stuart often suggests mat Pilates to her pregnant clients because it's easy to modify the exercises (to accommodate a growing belly), and "you still feel like you can get a great workout without pushing too hard or overextending yourself," she says.
Shepherd adds that you should certainly make sure to talk to your doctor about your exercise routine during pregnancy to "make sure there are no contraindications, because every pregnancy is different." If you're looking to take up Pilates for the first time during pregnancy, she suggests getting it cleared with your doctor first, and also working with an instructor to make sure you are doing it with proper form.
As for Hudson? Stuart says she likes to lead her, and all of her pregnant clients, through a series of three hip exercises.
Why hips? As your belly grows, limited mobility makes it harder to contract your abdominals in certain ways, she explains. These hip-focused exercises help you engage your abs in a more comfortable way, since they are done by lying on your side. (Many trainers and physical therapists also recommend avoiding “conventional” ab exercises that may overwork the rectus abdominis abs—like crunches—in order to limit the amount of ab separation you experience during pregnancy.) And as Shepherd explains, exercises that help increase flexibility and mobility of the hips can help you during labor and delivery.
Each of these three moves can be done on a Pilates reformer or simply a yoga mat.
First, Stuart has Hudson start off with side-lying bent-leg raises. Here's how to do them: Lie on your side with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle, Stuart says. Then, lift your top leg up and down, keeping it parallel to the floor. Think of it as a fire hydrant exercise that's just done lying on your side. Lift up and down 10 to 15 times, then repeat on the other side.
Next up are clamshells. Here's how to do them: Keep your knees in the same starting position, but this time keep both feet on the floor and "open your top knee and then close it." Picture a clamshell opening. Your feet should stay touching the whole time. Lift your knee 10 to 15 times before repeating on the other side.
The final move is a modified clamshell with a kick. Here's how to do it: Do the clamshell exercise explained above, but this time, when your top knee is in the raised position, kick your leg up to the ceiling. After holding for a beat, bring your feet back together and then bring your knee back to the starting position. Once again, do this move 10 to 15 times on each side.