I’m Pregnant and Want to Work My Abs. What to Do?

A lot of women are determined to stay in shape when they’re with child.  It’s definitely the right attitude and can certainly benefit unborn kids.  But there’s one set of exercises that you can worry less about: abdominals.

There are a lot of myths that seem to be intuitively true.  We learn pretty often we can never just assume facts.  But, in this case, if you thought working the gut when it’s starting to pop out might lead to more injuries then you would be absolutely correct.  While working the abdominals would still be fine in the beginning, there are definitive risks taking it past the second month with your core:

Core work is fine until you can start seeing your belly pop out, which can happen anywhere from the 8th to the 20th week of pregnancy. A protruding stomach when working your abdominals increases the risk of injury, including hernia.      

What’s more of a risk if a woman persists with these sort of exercises so late in the pregnancy is that the wrong position can result in oxygen and blood flow issues to the baby.  It’s advisable NOT to do abdominal work while lying on your back, as the weight of the growing uterus could create those flow issues.

This might lead you to think it’s better to completely lay off working the core: “I can go nine months without worry about it.”  But having strong abs is independent from working them when the belly is changing so much.  Strong abs should be a priority for anyone planning a pregnancy or is still in the early stages.  A strong core can alleviate pressure on the spine and help with other issues of discomfort common to expecting mothers:

Karen Clippinger, M.S.P.E., a kinesiologist at Loma Linda University Medical Center in Southern California, tells “Fit Pregnancy” that strengthening the abs can decrease the pressure that pregnancy puts on a woman’s spine and counter their tendency to develop a more pronounced lower back curve.

There are a few exercises to try out:

Seated Transversus:

The Quadruped:

Supine Transversus Contraction / Supine Pelvic Tilt:

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