Is Ab workout SAFE during pregnancy?
Pregnancy is the time when your abdominal muscles undergo a lot of stretching. As your baby bump grows, so grows the pressure on your abdominal muscles too. In such a situation, it becomes very important for you to stay fit and take proper care of your core muscles. This will not only help you during pregnancy but will also help you come back to your pre-pregnancy shape afterwards.
Though your physical changes will make it difficult for you to stick to a routine, here’s what you should know about your abs during and after pregnancy.
What happens to your abdominal muscles during pregnancy?
Not seen in every mom to be, Diastasis recti (abdominal separation), is condition in which the growing uterus puts pressure on the two bands of the abdominal muscles causing them to separate. It is not dangerous but in rare cases, expecting moms can develop hernia if the organs poke through the muscles. It can also cause lower back pain during pregnancy. By week 12, make sure you get yourself checked for diastasis recti, though in most cases it does not develop until later in pregnancy.
Is it safe to do abdominal exercises during early pregnancy?
This is an important question. We now know that it is important to do abdominal exercises but is it safe? How much is too much? Though there are no studies that suggest a link between moderate or vigorous abdominal exercises and pregnancy loss. But it is always advisable to consult your doctor before starting a workout regime. So, before you get started, know about what kind of exercises are safe and how much you can do.
Are Planks safe during pregnancy?
Yes, they are good for strengthening your abs and back during pregnancy. But as always, listen to your body and if you are not able to hold up, shorten your sets and if it is still getting difficult, bend your knees or rest them on floor.
Pregnancy safe Ab exercises
Here’s a list of pregnancy safe exercises that you can do for strengthening your abdominal muscles:
Sitting knee lift
You will need a chair to do this. This exercise helps strengthen your core muscles.
- Take a chair which has good balance and sit on the edge.
- Keep your feet flat on the floor parallel to your knees.
- Hold the chair with your hands under your hips.
- Slowly contract your abdomen by lifting your left leg and bending your left knee in such a way that it tilts your pelvis.
- Slowly bring your bent knee towards your chest.
- Start lowering your foot and come back to your neutral position.
- Now, repeat all the above steps with your right leg.
- First trimester: Do two sets of 9 to 12 repetitions.
- Second & third trimesters: Do up to two sets of 8 to 10 repetitions.
- Lie down on your back and place your hands under your hips.
- Keep your back flat.
- Slowly raise your right leg about 10 inches up from the ground, above your left leg.
- Now start lowering the right leg and lifting the left leg in the same manner.
- Move your legs like a pair of scissors (that’s why the name!).
- Do three sets of 10 scissor kicks. Don’t forget to take rest between each set.
Tips: It is better if you do this exercise in your first trimester only. Even if you feel you can do it in the following trimesters, avoid it, as you may end up hurting your back!!
The standing bicycle
Unlike other exercises that are done on the floor, this is an excellent exercise to improve your balance and improve your core strength without any risks of hurting your lower back.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
- Lift your right knee towards your chest and crunch.
- Crunch forward in a way that your left elbow touches your right knee.
- Now relax and go back to your original position.
- Repeat the process with your left foot and right elbow for at least 10 to 20 times.
These exercises help strengthen your pelvic floor, which is a group of muscles and ligaments that supports your bladder, uterus and other organs and control the flow of urine and the contraction of the vagina. So how do we do it???
Just try holding your pee mid stream, the muscles you are tightening are the same muscles you will have to contract when you do a kegel. But once you have found your pelvic floor muscles, don’t engage these muscles repeatedly as it may lead to urine incontinence and urinary tract infections.
Tips: It is best you go for short sets few times a day. This exercise is fast and once you know how to do them, you can do it anytime anywhere- watching TV, stuck in traffic- just anywhere!!
- Lie down on your side. Get comfortable!
- Slowly place your elbow just under the shoulder.
- Bend your knees and place them on top of one another.
- Don’t keep your spine stiff.
- Focus on breathing.
- Time for action, squeeze your hips and raise your torso to make it a straight line from head to hips.
- Keep your head and neck straight.
- Hold the position for 20 to 30 seconds. You can shorten the duration if you are not comfortable. But remember to keep breathing normally.
- Repeat the steps on the other side.
It is the good ab exercise, that will help you in the pushing stage during labour.
How to do:
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
- Lift your arms straight and place them in front of your chest.
- Now slowly squat down.
- If you feel out of balance, then take help of your partner or a friend to regain your balance.
- Squat as much as you can towards the floor, but be careful and go down slowly.
- If you are able to feel pressure in your shoulders, back and abs, then you are doing it right.
- Relax, now slowly get back to the position you started with.
- Try doing two sets of 15 repetitions each.
Tips: Squatting might get difficult once you enter your second trimester. You can continue this exercise but stop at once if you feel any pain.
Ab exercises to avoid!!
Full sit-ups and double leg lifts put more pressure on the abdomen, so they are not a great idea at any time during pregnancy. Also avoid moves that involve bending over backwards. Breathing properly is very important to make sure that you and your baby are getting a steady flow of oxygen.
As your belly grows, you should avoid exercises like crunches while facing up on your back. As your enlarged uterus could put pressure on the vein that carries blood to your heart, which can be dangerous for you and your baby. If you have been diagnosed with diastasis recti, crunches and sit-ups are a big NO NO!!
Most importantly, something that we always tell all expecting moms-to-be: listen to your body and always check with your doctor or trainer before starting a new routine.
Do not overdo any exercise and keep sipping water in between exercises. Most importantly, listen to your body and exercise accordingly.
For all pregnancy related information download Pregnancy Health, Diet and Fitness by Ango!