Staying fit during pregnancy is important for your health, and working your abdominal muscles has numerous advantages. Doing sit-ups or crunches while pregnant, on the other hand, is probably not a good idea.
After the first trimester, or when you notice noticeable uterine growth, it’s best to avoid these core exercises. To keep your core strong, there are many alternatives or modifications you can try instead.
The Advantages of Ab Work During Pregnancy
Maintaining a strong core throughout your pregnancy and postpartum period has several important benefits, including:
- Support for your pelvic floor muscles, which will help you avoid problems like frequent urination during pregnancy.
- Increased lower back support to alleviate back pain caused by the pull of your pregnancy.
- A less difficult labor and postpartum recovery
Despite these advantages, not all types of core work are safe to continue while pregnant. Crunches, in particular, pose a few challenges.
What You Should Know About Diastasis Recti?
Because sit-ups and crunches cause the abdominal muscles to bulge out, they can contribute to diastasis recti, which is the separation of your rectus abdominus (ab muscles) at the midline.
During pregnancy, your body goes through hormonal changes that help your baby’s growth as well as your own physical health. Increased levels of the hormones relaxin and progesterone relax your muscles and loosen your ligaments and joints, allowing you to grow while minimizing physical stress on your body.
Excessive stretching, on the other hand, can cause the two sides of your abdominal muscles to completely separate. This separation can be temporary or permanent. Avoiding crunches for the duration of your pregnancy can help you avoid this.
The Dangers of Lying on Your Back While Pregnant
Lying on your back during pregnancy can cause the vena cava, a large vein that transports blood from other parts of the body to the heart, to become compressed. This can lead to problems for both you and your baby.
Your uterus and its contents (the baby, placenta, and amniotic fluid) weigh significantly more during pregnancy than when you are not pregnant. When you lie on your back, the weight of your body falls on the vena cava, which can constrict blood flow.
The beginning of your second trimester is usually the point at which it becomes unsafe to continue supine exercises. However, because every pregnancy is unique, always consult with your doctor.
Pregnancy-Friendly Core Exercises
There are a number of options for safe ab work while pregnant. Here are some examples:
- On all fours, inhale while gently bending your spine in toward the floor and exhale while rounding your spine in the cat-cow pose.
- Seated pelvic tilts: Inhale with a straight spine and exhale while tucking the pelvis in and up towards the navel while seated. Repeat at least five times.
- Bird dog: Raise your right arm and left leg on all fours, keeping your shoulders and hips parallel to the floor. Hold for a few seconds before lowering down and switching sides. Rep about ten times.
- Prop yourself up with your right arm (or forearm) and right knee in a modified side plank. Lift your hips to form a straight line with your body. Hold for a few seconds before switching sides.
When Will You Be Able to Resume Core Exercises?
Your body will begin to heal itself immediately after giving birth. It’s still best to avoid sit-ups and crunches after giving birth until your abs have fully healed.
The recovery period could last anywhere from six weeks to six months or longer. Because each woman is unique, have your OB-GYN examine your ab muscles to see how they’re healing.
Returning to your regular ab routine does not have to be done immediately. To begin, stick to exercises like planks that work on overall core stability and obliques to help rebuild strength.
Pregnancy is a natural, biological process that causes many changes in your body. These changes, such as muscle stretching and softening, are normal and contribute to a healthy pregnancy and baby.
It is normal and healthy for these changes to reverse gradually during the postpartum period. There is no need to rush, and your primary goal should be to feel your best. Your long-term health is the most important aspect of staying fit during and after pregnancy and childbirth.