Abdominal Exercises While Pregnant
Strong abdominal muscles are helpful for pregnant women, but there are restrictions on what exercises are safe to do during pregnancy—especially after the first trimester. Lying on your back can compress the vena cava artery, which provides oxygen to the fetus.
Lying on your stomach is also not advised. There are, however, exercises that can be done while standing, sitting or lying in a side position. You should always talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise program, especially when pregnant.
The pelvic tilt and abdominal drawing-in exercise are two safe standing exercises for the abdomen. Along with sitting and side-lying exercises, the standing exercise should all be done at least once a week. Do 2 sets of 12 repetitions.
The drawing-in maneuver teaches you how to engage your abdominal muscles properly. Stand up straight and place your hands on your stomach. Exhale and pull in your abdominal muscles below your belly button. Imagine trying to pull the muscles back to your spine. Hold for 5 seconds. Inhale as you relax your abdominals. Do 12 reps.
The pelvic tilt exercise can be done standing against a wall. Place your hips, shoulders and head against a wall with your feet hip-width apart about a foot from the wall. Allow your back to arch naturally.
Exhale, tuck your pelvis under you and squeeze your abs in as you push your lower back flat against the wall. Hold for 5 seconds. Release, and then do another repetition without resting until you have done 12.
Sitting exercises are usually done in a chair with your back away from the backrest. Two sets of 12 reps are also good for sitting exercises. The drawing-in maneuver can be done while seated. Crunches can be done in a chair too.
Sit up straight in the seat with your feet level on the floor. Spot your hands behind your head with your elbows opened wide. Bend from under the ribs and crunch down toward the floor. Stop halfway and hold the crunch for 2 seconds. Sit back up straight to complete the rep.
It is safe for pregnant women to lie on their sides, so side-lying exercises like side crunches and side crunches with leg lifts are safe as well. These exercises will work more of the oblique abdominal muscles along the sides of the abs than the rectus and transverse abdominus, which are targeted by the other exercises. You should do side crunches at least once a week for this reason.
To do a side crunch, lie on your right side with your knees bent. Place your left hand behind your head. Crunch your upper body to the side, bringing your left shoulder up toward your left hip. Do 12 crunches lying on your right side, then roll onto your left side and repeat.