A new video could help get your tummy back into shape. MAXINE GORDON reports

MOST new mums know that pelvic floor exercises hold the key to getting your stomach back in shape after giving birth.

But how many women actually know what their pelvic floor is, let alone how to exercise it?

Anyone who has practised Pilates should be in touch with this part of their body, because this is a form of training that builds up the core muscles around the back and abdomen which help with posture and balance.

But if a woman hasn't practised Pilates and learned how to 'engage' her pelvic floor muscles, it can be tricky to do so after giving birth when the stomach muscles have been pulled apart.

Given the fact that Pilates focuses on exercising the pelvic floor to build up strength in the tummy and back, it could be a useful tool for pregnant women. It could help them maintain good posture and prevent backache as well as be an aid to getting back in shape after giving birth.

That's just what fitness instructor and Wetherby mum Lindsey Jackson thought when she made the first Pilates video aimed specifically at pregnant women.

Her decision was sparked after she fell pregnant for the second time and wanted to continue practising Pilates, but was unable to get any advice on how, or if, it could be adapted to suit her condition.

"I looked around for information, but I couldn't find it," says Lindsey, who is a qualified Pilates instructor. "I eventually went on a workshop on Pilates in pregnancy, which gave me the idea to make a video.

"Pilates is perfect for pregnant women," she says. "The exercises build up and tone the very muscles that will be used to carry the baby, in labour, and the same muscles that will help the new mum to get back into shape after baby is born."

The video was made while Lindsey was heavily pregnant. It is aimed at women at various stages in their pregnancy and is suitable for all ability levels, including beginners.

"It's even suitable for women who, say, had a child three years ago but feel their stomach muscles never came back together again," says Lindsey.

The video has exercises to get you through pregnancy, and beyond.

"After the birth, you can do your pelvic floor exercises right away, which will help your stomach muscles come back together and get you back in shape."

Lindsey has practised what she preaches, and began doing some simple exercises following the birth of her son, Samuel, two weeks ago.

"I'm really chuffed because my stomach muscles are coming together. I was lifting my pelvic floor as soon as I had the baby," says Lindsey, who had a waterbirth at home.

The video is a family affair and was made with the help of husband Mike Butterworth and dad Keith Jackson. It was produced in consultation with the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Women's Health, which has also endorsed it.

The video, Pilates In Pregnancy, is available by mail order, by ringing 01937 586685 or email: pilates@enhance-wellbeing.com.

Send a cheque for £16.99 (plus £1.70 p&p) made payable to Enhance To Enhance, 8 Raby Park, Wetherby, LS22 6SA.