As you might know from previous posts, I am working very closely with a pregnant client called Dea at the moment. Dea is into her 20th week – a time when questions usually come up around abdominal exercises. People often ask how to do tummy exercises safely from the second trimester onwards when a pregnant woman’s physique really starts to change.
As Dea is at this stage now and we have been focusing a lot on this type of exercise, I thought it would be a great opportunity to write about the topic of abdominal exercise during pregnancy. In this post I’m going to cover:
- Why abdominal exercises are important during pregnancy
- How can tummy exercises be done safely for mother and baby
- Examples of specific exercises women can do in their second trimester
Dea kindly agreed to help demonstrate some of these exercises for us below. If you’d like to keep up to date on her progress, look out for future posts!
Why is it important to keep doing abdominal exercises during pregnancy?
Keeping the body strong in general during pregnancy is very important but one of your focus points should be your abdominals. Here are some of the main reasons why:
- Abdominal exercises will help to prevent diastasis recti (separation of the abominal muscles)
- Strong abdominals will support your back with the extra weight you are carrying
- Abdominal exercises will help to improve alignment which should in turn reduce back pain
- The Transverse Abdominus is used during the delivery of your baby, so the stronger it is the better
- And of course, last but not least, strong abdominals will help you to recover quickly after the birth of your baby
Is it safe to do abdominal exercises throughout my pregnancy?
During your first trimester it is still fine to do tummy exercises lying on your back but once you move into your second and third trimesters, this isn’t advisable any more. The weight of your baby can place pressure on blood vessels and make you feel faint. Instead, you should be focusing on tummy exercises in the sitting, kneeling or standing positions.
Have a look at our Pregnancy Exercise – What should you be focusing on post to give you some guidelines about exercising safely during pregnancy.
2 great tummy exercises
The 2 exercises I am going to show you today are great if you are into your second and third trimester as they work the abdominals in a way that is effective and safe without lying on your back.
Abdominal exercise 1: the belly lift
You’re on your hands and knees with your spine in a neutral position. Allow your tummy muscles to relax, letting your belly ‘hang’. Inhale to prepare, exhale and lift the belly up towards the spine without rounding your back. Inhale hold, exhale release the lift allowing the muscles to relax again. Repeat 8 times.
Abdominal exercise 2: the single leg lift
Start sitting tall with a straight back and straight legs, arms out in front of you. Inhale to prepare, as you exhale, tilt your pelvis and take your weight backwards drawing your tummy towards your spine, keeping your shoulders soft.
Keeping the tummy drawn in, inhale to prepare, exhale and lift your right leg just off the floor, inhale lower it back down, exhale lift your left leg just off the floor, inhale lower it, exhale return to the starting position sitting tall. Repeat 8 times.
You should not feel these in you lower back, only the abdominals and maybe the legs. If you start feeling your back, check that you are tilting your pelvis enough and focusing on drawing your belly button in towards your spine.
These are two really easy and effective exercises to help keep the abdominals strong during your pregnancy. Although these exercises seem simple, always check with your doctor before starting any new form of exercise and try to have some form of supervision whenever possible – especially when you are trying something for the first time!
I hope you enjoy trying these tummy exercises out. Keep your eyes open for more target exercises as we help to keep you strong and mobile during this special time! If you have any requests for certain exercise, please leave us a comment below and we’ll happily try to include them in our future posts!