There are obvious changes in the female body that occur due to pregnancy. Not only are these changes hormonal, but also muscular changes to accommodate the baby growing inside. After conception, you might feel a bit hesitant and scared because of these vast changes. But believe me when I say that you can get back to your beautiful shape even post delivery!
The changes that you’re going through are totally normal. With some safe and easy ab exercises, you might not get a chiseled core, but you’ll definitely have strong abs that will help you maintain your fitness. Ab exercises for pregnant women provide numerous benefits, but you should only practice them as long as your doctor recommends you to do so.
Safety Concerns Regarding Abs Workout for Pregnancy
If your doctor suggests that you avoid exercises completely (in particular situations), you should. However, in most cases, ab exercises are safe during the earlier months of pregnancy. In fact, research has not found any association of pregnancy problems with moderate levels of exercise. A growing baby bump can make exercising difficult for you, but it will only be visible during the second trimester. Until that, you can do moderate levels of ab exercises and then slowly decrease the intensity as the baby bump grows.
What Happens to Your Abs in Pregnancy?
At the beginning of your second trimester, you’ll start to notice a baby bump. With the growth of the uterus, a ridge could be formed from the bottom of the breasts to the middle of your belly. This is called diastasis recti, where a gap between the right and left abdominal muscles form. This gap widens with the growing baby by some centimeters. This occurs as the uterus expands and pushes against the abdomen, causing the softening of muscles that hold together the recti muscles. Women who are over 35, those who have had several pregnancies earlier or had multiple babies at once, or those who are having poor core muscles, delivering babies with high weight and doing aggressive exercises like crunches could have wider gaps.
Regularly check if you have diastasis recti. If the gap is more than three finger-widths, your ab workouts need to be changed while you’re pregnant and after delivery. Diastasis recti can heal over time after birth, if it’s not severe and if your core muscles are healthy.
What Kind of Ab Workouts Are Unsafe?
Throughout your pregnancy it’s generally okay to exercise your abs, given you do it carefully. Strengthening those abs will support the pelvic regions, which in turn will support the baby bump. This will also reduce pressure from your back and correct your posture, so you won’t have to suffer from nasty lower backs. A stronger core means labor pain will be a bit less harsh on you and you will recover faster after birth.
Planks have been labelled as safe for pregnant women. Other static, less movement exercises and endurance workouts are ideal for your abs and back. Exercises like crunches and other dynamic varieties can be stressful. They should be avoided. However, if you feel that your body is undergoing too much stress during exercise, make your planks shorter or take rest.
Ask your doctor before performing any ab exercises and make sure which exercises you are restricted to. It’s recommended avoiding standard crunches as these are not suitable for pregnancy workouts. Double leg lifts or full sit-ups are not recommended. Any exercises involving bending backwards and contortions should not be done either.
While exercising, you have to make sure you’re breathing sufficiently so that you and your baby get enough oxygen. Avoid lying on your back because the uterus could affect the vena cava vein and potentially harm you and your baby. If you really want to do ab exercises lying on your back, use pillows or wedges for back support. Do exercises that involve lying on the side or standing straight. But never try to use an ab belt when you are pregnant.
What Happens to the Abs After Pregnancy?
After the baby’s delivery, as long as your pregnancy was uncomplicated, with no or little diastasis recti, and if you have your doctor’s permission, you can exercise your abs as soon as within 24 hrs. If you had C-section, you have to wait for some weeks before getting back to your exercises. Rest is extremely important, so take enough rest and then proceed with the ab exercises. If you had diastasis recti, and the gap was pretty big, the gap may take one month or more to close up. So start exercise only after the gap closes. Avoid crunches, sit-ups, double leg lifts, and knee-to-chest exercises until you have completely recovered, which may take as long as six weeks.
Abs Workout for Pregnancy
There are some small, really simple ab workouts for pregnancy that you could do without hurting yourself and your baby. These would bring tremendous benefits to your strained core muscles and help you have your dream abs.
Heel Slides: Lie down on your back with your head up a little bit. Use a pillow for support and place your palms on the floor. Bend your knees and bring them close. Extend one leg but make sure the heel is not too far above the ground, then bring it back to its original position. Repeat this process with your other leg.
Knee Lifts: You should lie on your right side, with your right arm extended and underneath your head. Let your head rest on your right arm and place your left hand on the floor, palms facing downwards in front of your chest. Now bend your knees at right angles. Keep them stacked together and use your core to lift the knees up. Bring them down and take them up, but make sure they’re together. Do this for the left side as well.
There are some mini exercises which you could do to to allow healing of the gap between the abdominal muscles, which would help you get your pre-pregnancy body much quicker. For example, lay down on your bed and place your hands on your abdomen and inhale. Then exhale as you push the sides of your ab muscles together. Raise your head for a few inches upwards, slowly and steadily. Then lower your head and exhale again. This completes one rep. Do this up to four times a day. As you get used to the exercise, try lifting your shoulders slightly up from the bed, everyday a bit more. Move on to an exercise mat after some time. Hopefully, the gap will close up.
These are the abs workout for pregnancy, which is a great way of maintaining your fitness. It shows how motivated you are to keep your body in shape, despite all the issues you might be going through. Changes during pregnancy do happen, but with a few simple ab exercises for pregnancy, it’s not impossible to get back to the fabulous figure you used to have before your pregnancy. However, it is important that you don’t go overboard with the exercises and you could even try an ab machine to do some light exercises.
Although these exercises are simple, if your doctor advises against them and if you feel too strained to do them, don’t bother and take rest. Breathe sufficiently and eat healthy for you as well as your baby. Get as much rest and sleep as you need, and don’t hold back when it comes to cravings! Pregnancy is a beautiful thing, so don’t let it stress you too much!