Having strong abdominal muscles is important for men and women alike, however it is especially important for women when they become pregnant. If your abdominal muscles are flabby it forces the back muscles to compensate by taking on extra work to support the spine. When you are pregnant and carrying extra weight the lower back is strained even more, so the stronger your abdominals are the easier it will be on your lower back.
Most women think once they hit 14 weeks and can no longer lay on their back, they can no longer work their abdominals. Not exactly true:) There are lots of ways you can continue to work your core muscles all the way through your pregnancy. The easiest way is to take the basic crunches from the lying position to the standing position. Other exercises that you can try are plank and opposite arm and leg reach on your hands and knees. These exercises are described below.
Standing Crunch: Stand with your feet hip width apart and a slight bend in your knees. Pull your bellybutton into your spine (I know not the easiest thing to do when your pregnant), place your fingers by your ears with your elbows out to the side. Now crunch forward just like you would do if you were lying on your back. Focus on squeezing your abdominal muscles. Try doing 20 at a time. You can also try standing bicycle crunches. Take the same position but when you crunch lift your left knee up and take your right elbow across toward the knee. Then switch and lift the right knee and take the left elbow across.
Plank: To do a plank. Come down on your elbows and knees to start. Draw your bellybutton into your spine. when you are ready lift up onto your toes so that you are balancing on your forearms and your toes and your body is in a flat line. Hold this position for 10-30 seconds at a time. It is very important to hold your tummy tight and not let the lower back sway in this exercise.
Opposite arm and leg reach on all fours: come onto the ground on your hands and knees. Your hands should be directly below your shoulders and your knees should be directly below your hips. Take your right leg straight back behind you and lift it an inch off of the ground. While keeping the right leg lifted extend your left arm out in front of you and lift it off of the ground an inch. Try holding the right leg and the left arm off of the ground at the same time for 10 seconds and then switch and hold the left leg and the right arm off of the ground.
These are just a few ways you can continue to work your core while you are pregnant. Remember having a strong core will not only help prevent/relieve pregnancy related lower back pain it will also assist in an easier delivery! The stronger your abs are the easier it will be to push your baby out.