Abdominal Workout during Pregnancy
Preparing your body for giving birth is important to facilitate your labour and delivery. During the 40 weeks of your pregnancy, your body will go through the most changes in its lifetime. Your uterus will hold up to 4 liters of liquid! The mid-section will go through a pretty tough change. Your abdominal muscles cannot be forgotten. They will help the most during the pushing stage of the delivery.
Before you take on an abdominal work out during your pregnancy there are many important things to consider:
1. Trimester of the pregnancy,
2. Diastasis* (a small opening of your rectus abdominus),
3. Multiple pregnancy (twins or triplets).
It is important to discuss your plans to exercise with your doctor before your take on an abdominal workout.
1. During the first trimester, you can perform the same exercises as before. When you reach the 14th week of pregnancy, it is important to avoid all exercises lying on your back including abs. The weight on your fetus can put pressure on the inferior vena cava and reduce the blood flow to the womb. Consult your pre/postnatal specialized trainer for variations of supine-executed exercises.
2. How to check for diastasis Diastasis is a separation of the two halves of the rectus abdominus muscle in the middle of your belly that sometimes occurs during pregnancy. You can check for it by lying on your back with your knees bent. (If you start to feel faint while on your back, roll to your left side; then use pillows under your shoulders to prop yourself up.) Place your fingertips 1 to 2 inches below your bellybutton, fingers pointing toward your feet. Lift your head as high as you can and see if you feel a ridge protruding from the midline of your abdomen - that's diastasis. If you have it, take care to not exacerbate the separation when you do abdominal exercises. Check with your pre/postnatal specialized trainer for variations of abdominal workouts. Diastasis often heals after childbirth. If yours does not, talk to your doctor.
3. If you are pregnant with twins or triplets (or more) it is mandatory that you check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program.
Is it important to work you abs during pregnancy? YES! Although some women question the benefits of abdominal work, strengthening the abdominal region will help support your protruding belly as the pregnancy advances. It will also reduce back pain, keep your baby hugged into the pelvic cavity and help keep good postural alignment. But most of all, it will help during the pushing stage of the delivery. As a mom of 2 and a pre/postnatal specialized trainer, I strongly emphasize the importance of abdominal training to most of my moms-to-be for the reasons listed above.
Transverse abdominus, rectus abdominus, obliques… Which one will really help during the pushing stage? Answer: Transverse abdominus. A good exercise to work this muscle is “the baby hugs”. Start with a deep breath and let your belly “pop out”. Avoid rounding your shoulders. Keep breathing and pull your belly in, pull, pull, pull, pull, but don’t forget to breathe. Imagine your baby being hugged by your muscles. Repeat this exercise a few times.
Other abdominal workouts can be performed like the modified crunches on a stability ball, side-lying, seated or standing crunches. These exercises will train the rectus abdominus muscle.
The decision to work your abs during pregnancy will rely on 2 simple facts; diastasis and your personal opinion of this type of workout. I suggest consulting a specialized trainer to make sure your techniques are done properly and safely and that you are breathing throughout the whole execution. Your trainer will also check for diastasis if you are uncertain if you have it.
Have a healthy pregnancy!