Pronounced puh-LOT-tees, this low-impact fitness method focuses on the body as a whole, according to Julian Littleford, a Pilates trainer and owner of J L Body Conditioning in Del Mar, California. "The system strengthens and lengthens the intrinsic muscles that hold the body in correct alignment."
In pregnancy, this translates to a stronger pelvic floor, more stable body frame and increased stamina through non-impact cardio work. "During pregnancy, the body's hormones change, causing ligaments and tissue to loosen," says Littleford. "If you strengthen the pelvic floor, you can go back naturally to a pre-pregnant or correct alignment. The mother actually can be left in stronger, better shape."
And can it help you prepare for labor? You bet. "We educate the mother as to which muscles are required to work during labor and how to access them. Then we strengthen those and increase the muscle stamina so she can pace herself during labor."