Exercise during pregnancy offers pregnant women many benefits, including increased energy and reduced aches and pains. If you already exercise, you can probably continue your regular routine with a few modifications. Abdominal workouts are one area that need modifications, especially as you get further into the pregnancy. Learn how to strengthen your abdominal muscles safely throughout the pregnancy to avoid injury or problems for you and your baby.
The risks associated with abdominal exercises come mainly in the second and third trimesters. In particular, abdominal exercises that involve lying on the back can cause problems for you and your baby. During the later time in the pregnancy, the weight at the front of the body presses down on your blood vessels while you are on your back. This can make your blood pressure drop significantly. The restricted blood flow might also reduce the amount of oxygen your baby receives.
Strengthening the abdominal muscles is beneficial during pregnancy, during labor and as you recover from childbirth. Stronger abs help support the weight of the baby during the pregnancy. The exercises might help improve your posture as your stomach grows, which can sometimes throw off your balance. A strong core helps with the pushing phase of delivery.
The small size of the baby and uterus during the first trimester means you can usually lie on your back without causing problems. This means most women can safely do crunches, sit-ups and other traditional abdominal exercises. If you didn’t do ab exercises before becoming pregnant, start slowly to avoid straining your muscles.
Second and Third Trimester Exercises
As your uterus grows, you’ll need to switch to ab exercises that don’t require lying on your back. Your growing stomach will also make it difficult or impossible to do sit-ups. Tightening and holding your abdominal muscles for 10 to 15 seconds as you sit is one simple ab exercise. Another option is to get on your hands and knees and arch your back as you tighten the abs. Release and rest before doing the move again.
Like any exercise during pregnancy, you should always listen to your body. Stop any abdominal exercises if you feel strange pains or discomfort. Discuss any concerns about your ab workout with your physician.