Pregnancy shouldn’t disrupt your regular workout routine if it makes you feel energetic and light. This is how you’d like to feel all the while. So why not continue with the similar fitness regime during pregnancy? Yes, it could be difficult to perform all the exercises you’ve practiced before. You might have to be more selective regarding the exercises and tone down your vigor alike. However, you should not give up.
Staying physically active will positively affect your pregnancy and make delivery easier. Some pregnancy abdominal exercises can tone your muscles and keep you fit, which will help you prepare for delivery. By strengthening deep abdominal muscles, your core will keep optimal function throughout the pregnancy progresses. As a result, you’ll reap the following benefits:
- Better feeling during pregnancy
- Minimized pains and aches
- Improved posture of your body
- Shorter delivery time
- Faster postpartum recovery
In order to achieve these great benefits, you should choose the appropriate exercises that will suit your current condition. This is highly important because not all exercises are safe for pregnant women. Here are 10 pregnancy abdominal exercises you may safely practice during pregnancy. Are you ready? Okay, here we go!
1. Standing Crunch
Let’s get started with an easy ab exercise called Standing Crunch. Be sure to follow these simple steps:
- Stand straight and slightly spread your legs with feet hip-width apart (your feet should be positioned in the same line with your hip bones).
- Put your hands behind head by bringing the tips of your fingers to ears and bend your knees a bit.
- Pull your tummy button toward your spine as much as you can and slowly tuck your pelvis.
- Now you can start crunching forward. Make sure to squeeze your ab muscles while doing this for the best results.
- Try to do about 20 repetitions the same way.
2. Standing Pelvic Tilts
Here’s another exercise you can do in a standing position. It can help you strengthen your abdominal and back muscles, thereby improve the posture of your body. Here’s how to perform standing pelvic tilts:
- Get close to a wall and stand straight in such a way that your hips and back are placed near it. Don’t lean against the wall! Keep your heels around 13 inches (33 centimeters) away from the wall. Also, make sure that your spine is completely relaxed.
- Try to flex your abdominal muscles until you start feeling the pressure.
- Then tilt your hips backward till your lower back touches the wall.
- Your lower back should flatten against the wall. Did you make it? Great! Endeavor to hold this posture for about 5 seconds and then release to finish one repetition.
- Repeat it 10 times.
3. Sitting Knee Lift
Sitting knee lift is an exercise that has positive effects on core muscles since it can make them stronger during pregnancy. For this exercise, you will need to use a sturdy chair. Did you take one? Okay, you are all set!
- Sit down on the edge of the chair.
- Place your feet directly under the knees while keeping them flat on the floor at the same time.
- Put your palms beneath your hips.
- Now, you should start contracting your belly. Bend your right knee so that it makes your pelvis tilt. Then bring that knee slowly toward your chest.
- Put your right foot down on the floor and come back to the starting position.
- All of this should be repeated with the left leg.
- In the first six months of your pregnancy, you can safely do 2 sets of 10 repetitions. In the 3rd trimester, you are advised to proceed with one set of ten repetitions.
4. Seated Ball Stability Hold
You’ll need a stability ball for this exercise. If you’ve never used such a ball before, ask your friend or partner to assist you to keep balance while performing the exercise.
- Sit up straight on a ball, maintaining the upright posture with your back erect.
- To keep balance while exercising, put your hands near hips on both sides.
- Raise your right hand up above head and lift the right foot off the ground at the same time.
- While doing this, make sure to breathe from the core. Here’s how to do it. Take a deep breath and try to hold breath for three to four seconds while returning to your initial position. Bring your belly button into the spine while exhaling.
- Repeat with your left arm and right foot.
5. Prone Stretch & Tuck
Do you have a mat? If not, you can also use a blanket for this ab exercise. Get down on your knees and let’s get started!
- Begin on all fours.
- Stretch your right leg behind and your left hand straight up in front of you.
- Engage your abdominal muscles as you extend knee and elbow toward your core to full extension.
- Release as much as you can and continue. Repeat these movements from 10 to 15 times as per your convenience.
- Make the same number of reps with your opposite limbs.
6. Side-Lying Crunch
Here’s an exercise any pregnant woman can do with peace of mind, as it’s considered to be the safest pregnancy abdominal exercise.
- Lie down on the floor (use a soft mat).
- Turn over on your left side and bend your knees at around 30-degree angle to the hips.
- Roll your body slowly toward the right side while raising your knees about 5 inches from the floor.
- Be sure that most of your body weight rely on your left shoulder blade and the back of that shoulder as well.
- Put your hands behind head, making sure that your fingers touching each other.
- Draw your torso upward as if you’re trying to reach the right knee. Try to lift it to the maximum extent.
- Your left shoulder should slightly rise from the floor while doing these steps.
- Push your hands toward the knees while curling them as high as possible.
- Put your arms behind head and slowly get back to the beginning position.
- Then turn over on the right side and repeat all these steps identically. We recommend starting with one set of 5 reps on both sides. You can continue with 10 repetitions later.
7. Heel Slides
This simple exercise stretches the core muscles in the thighs and is quite easy to do.
- Lie down on the back with your hands on the floor along the sides. Prop up your head, neck, and upper back.
- Bend your knees slowly while bringing your feet inside toward the butt.
- Slightly separate your heels from the ground and try to extend either your left or right leg as much as you can.
- Slowly bring it back to the initial position.
- Then alternate sides and repeat above-mentioned steps by raising your other leg.
8. Single Heel Drops
Strong glute muscles play a vital role in improving posture during pregnancy. That’s why every pregnant woman should practice single heel drops on a regular basis.
- Lie on your back comfortably. As with the previous exercise, your head, neck, and upper back should be propped up a bit. Also, put your palms on the floor with the hands along your body.
- Bend your knees to approximately 90° and lift your heels up so that your both feet are in line with your knees.
- While straightening one leg (let’s say your left), try to keep the other one at 90°.
- Then slowly put your straightened leg down by engaging your abdominal muscles. That will make those muscles tight and sturdy, which is actually the goal of this exercise.
- Let your heel touch the ground tenderly before raising it back to the beginning position.
- Repeat this with your right leg and continue to exercise, shifting your legs alternately. Two sets of 15 reps a day would be quite enough.
9. Side Plank
This exercise can be performed in several different ways. We will show you one of the safest ways to do it during pregnancy.
- Lie either on your left or right side, as per your convenience.
- Rely on the elbow so that it is in line with the shoulder.
- Bend your knees keeping them stacked.
- Make sure your spine is neutral altogether at this point and breathe from your core
- Press your hips firmly and lift your torso up so that it makes a straight line from hips to head.
- Endeavor to keep your neck and head straight in that position for a while (for 20 seconds or so) and breathe normally.
- Turn over on the other side and repeat the steps.
10. Standing Bicycle
It’s a great exercise to enhance the core strength and improve balance. Here’s how to do it:
- Spread your legs so that your feet and hips are in the same line.
- Crunch forward gently.
- Raise your left knee toward the chest.
- Twist your torso toward the left side, making sure your right elbow can touch the lifted knee (the left one this time).
- Go back slowly to the starting position.
- Repeat this with your left elbow and right knee. We recommend from 10 to 20 repetitions a day.
What about abs after pregnancy? Just keep going! Assuming you didn’t have any complications during your pregnancy and at childbirth, you can safely continue exercising 24 to 48 hours after delivery, depending on your condition. Those women who have had a cesarean section are advised to wait several weeks. Once your incision has healed, you can begin to exercise again.