Among the most frequently encountered questions that pregnant women get is “Can you work your abs while pregnant?”
A short answer would be YES. However, you have to be very careful in which exercises you choose to perform, if you want a healthy pregnancy and a smooth delivery.
Table of Contents
- 1 General Guidelines for Abdominal Workout during Pregnancy
- 2 Are Abs Exercise Safe in Early Pregnancy?
- 3 Are Planks Safe while Pregnant?
- 4 Best 9 Abdominal Workout to Perform while Pregnant
- 5 Abs Exercises You Should Avoid while Pregnant
General Guidelines for Abdominal Workout during Pregnancy
Still, there lots of guidelines out there meant to warn you about the way exercises should be performed during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester. The general recommendation you`ll find to be not to lie-down on your back as it may lead to a reduced flow of blood.
However, there`s some debate regarding this matter. Physical exercises performed on the back seem to be ok, generally speaking; of course, unless various symptoms like fetal heart rate response turns to become abnormal or dizziness come into play.
If any of these issues happen, the pregnant woman needs to turn on the left side. Keep in mind that lying down on the back under the weight of a womb that became large may compress the inferior vena cava.
Another important aspect is the fact that the separation of the abdominal muscles might happen while pregnant, also known as diastasis recti. This is the result of the enlarged uterus pushing on your abdominal wall, which becomes prone this separation due to a particular hormonally-induced soothing of the fibrous band which connects the recti muscles.
Factors that contribute the an enlarged risk of diastasis recti are having the age of 35+ or performing excessive pregnant abs workout (e.g. crunches).
Make certain you`ll have the doctor who supervise your pregnancy monitor your midsection (or you can do it yourself if you have the basic knowledge). The general recommendation would be not to perform any standard planks or crunches while expecting.
Are Abs Exercise Safe in Early Pregnancy?
Unless your doctor has forbidden you to practice any exercise while pregnant, most abs exercises are completely safe during early pregnancy. Studies have already proven no relation between moderate exercise and early pregnancy loss.
Even more than this, your pregnancy bump – which could make some of the abs exercises harder to perform (even impossible at times) as the pregnancy develops – will likely make its appearance in the 2nd trimester of pregnancy.
Are Planks Safe while Pregnant?
Yes, planks are considered completely safe to practice throughout your pregnancy. Endurance-based physical exercises, such as planks, are in fact perfect for future moms as they strengthen both the back and abs.
Also, they don`t put a lot of pressure on your spine, unlike dynamic physical exercises, such as crunches.
Still, you should listen to your body. It will always “tell” you if something is wrong, if let`s say, you may feel a bit too much strain, keep your planks for a few shorter sets (ideally, between 5 and 10 seconds). If it is too hard, rest the knees on the floor or maintain them slightly bent.
Best 9 Abdominal Workout to Perform while Pregnant
Keep in mind that you shouldn`t use any of the below physical exercises without talking to the doctor who supervises your pregnancy first.
While expecting a baby, you need to remain fit and follow a physical exercise routine. Here`re a few such exercises you could do while pregnant.
Sitting Knee Lift
This abs exercise can be done using a chair. It aids fortify the muscles or your core.
- Take a well built chair and sit near its edge.
- Place the feet straight under the knees flat on the floor.
- Place the palms under the hips facing downward.
- Contract your abs slowly by simply bending the left knee in a way that will tilt the pelvis.
- Bring the bent knee towards the chest.
- Begin lowering the left foot on the floor while returning to the neutral position.
- Repeat these steps using the right leg.
During the 1st pregnancy trimester, do 2 sets of 8 – 12 repetitions. You could do it by adding weights of 1 – 3lb on every ankle as well.
During the 2nd and 3rd pregnancy trimesters, you could do up to 2 sets of 8 – 10 repetitions.
Engage your Deep Core the Right Way
When engaging the deep core the right way, you have to sense a light core interconnection and still manage to breathe deeply. Managing to hold this particular light deep core interconnection could aid to strengthen the core on a daily basis.
Start each physical exercise with this specific deep core activation in order to strengthen the abdominal muscles while pregnant. This could aid to minimize the seriousness of diastasis recti while pregnant and ameliorate healing after delivery as well.
- Inhale in order to relax the pelvic muscles while exhaling into the back and sides (relaxation is the most important aspect for proper activation on the future exhale).
- Exhale to start “zipping out” the lower belly and pelvic muscles. Lengthen through the top of the head.
This is considered among the safest abs exercises to perform while pregnant.
- Lie down on the floor.
- Roll the body to your left wide slowly and then fold the knees in such a way that you`ll have a 30° angle with the hips.
- Roll your body towards your right side so you have the knees rising about 6″ from the floor.
- Make sure that the weight of the body will rest on your left shoulder`s back as well as the shoulder blade.
- Place both your hands behind the head with your fingertips touching.
- Curl the torso rising in a diagonal position just as if you`re attempting to touch the right knee. You should raise it as much as possible.
- While performing these steps, the left shoulder will rise a bit from the floor.
- Bring the arms towards your knees and then curl them a little higher.
- Place the hands behind your head and then lower yourself to the initial position.
- Repeat all the above steps on your different side.
Do 1 set of 6 repetitions on both your sides. As soon as you will feel comfortable enough, you could do about twelve repetitions.
Strengthen Those Abs from Within
Kegels exercises should not only involve the pelvic muscles. There`s a research published in 2002 in International Urogynecology Journal and Pelvic Floor Dysfunction which discovered that when activating the pelvic muscles, you are in fact activating a few supporting muscles around the deep core as well.
Deep core muscles could include:
- Tranverse abs.
- Pelvic muscles.
These particular muscle have to work together for your core to function optimally, which will translate into your abs physical exercises while pregnant.
This is a simple abs exercise.
- Sit in a comfortable position and try to keep the back straight.
- Put both the hands on the waist.
- Breathe deeply and open the ribs externally.
- Exhale gradually and bring the ribs back to the closing position.
- Relax the muscles by simply contracting the front of the pelvis as well as the tailbone.
- Repeat all the above steps.
This exercise can be performed in a few different ways. Here`s a safe way that can be done while pregnant.
- Lie down on one side.
- Put the elbow straight under your shoulder.
- Maintain the spine in a neutral position for now and focus on breathing.
- Squeeze the hips and raise the torso in order to make it a direct line from your head to your hips.
- Maintain the head as well as your neck straight.
- You could maintain this position for 20 – 30 seconds, while breathing in a natural way.
- Repeat all the above steps on the different side.
This is a wonderful physical exercise to increase the strength of your core and improve the balance. Unlike other ones, this type of exercise is performed on the floor, which reduces risks of hurting the lower area of your back.
- Put the feet at the same distance as the hips.
- Your crunch should be positioned forward.
- Lift the right knee towards the chest.
- Twist your right side like the left elbow should touch the right knee.
- Return to your original position and repeat the exercise with the left foot along with your right elbow.
- These steps should be repeated for around 10 – 20 times.
Cat Cow Pose
This particular exercise aids strengthen the muscles of your core and improves your back and spine`s flexibility.
- Put yourself on the floor on your legs and hands.
- Begin inhaling and look up in the direction of the roof. Arch the back, while doing this step.
- While exhaling, tuck the chin along with the tailbone, and pull the belly button towards the spine.
- Keep inhaling and exhaling so you can match the rhythm of breathing to the movements as much as possible.
- Repeat these particular steps for around 2 minutes, take a pause and then repeat them. It`s among the safest abs physical exercises during pregnancy.
Read also: Is Pilates Safe During Pregnancy?
This is a physical exercise that involves stability. It will strengthen the abdominal muscles.
- Put yourself down on the floor on the knees. Before starting the exercise, put the wrists straight under the shoulders, while your knees should be placed under the hips.
- Keep the back as straight as possible.
- Maintain the abdominal muscles tight.
- Lift the left leg slowly and then extend it in a straight line behind your body. The abdominal muscles will now have to be real tight.
- While doing this particular step, lift up the right arm and bring it in front of your body.
- Take a break for a little while and hold this step.
- Begin breathing as slowly as possible as releasing the pose and then return to your neutral position.
- Repeat these particular steps using the opposite hand as well as leg.
Abs Exercises You Should Avoid while Pregnant
Due to the fact that double leg lifts or complete sit-ups put much more pressure on your tummy, they aren`t a wonderful idea while pregnant. You should also try and avoid bending over backward or moves which may involve contortions.
Make certain you breathe steadily as you perform your abs exercises in order to ensure you as well as the future baby are getting enough oxygen.
After reaching your 1st pregnancy trimester`s end, you will have to avoid performing any type of exercise, such as crunches, while positioning with your face up on the back. At this particular point, the increased uterus might compress the vena cava (this being the vein which carries blood to the heart), which might be pretty harmful for both you and the little one.
In order to relieve this pressure without skipping all abs physical exercises which normally includes lying on the back, prop your body up so the heart will be above the navel using a Swiss ball, your forearms, a few pillows, or a wedge. You could always perform physical exercises in alternative positions, such as standing straight, on all your 4 members or lying on one of your sides. – Visit this link!
If you find out you experience diastasis recti that has along with a gap of over 3 fingers width, you should try and avoid sit-ups, crunches as well as other types of physical exercises where the abdominal muscles bulge, since they are the ones putting additional burden on the abdominus rectus.
And more importantly, you should always try and listen to what your body is saying to you. If a particular physical exercise does not feel as it should (and especially if you feel pain), you should stop right then and there.
Talk with your personal trainer or doctor if you may be worried, since there`re so many types of alternative exercises out there which are in fact quite safe while pregnant.