Is it safe to do stomach exercises during pregnancy?

It may seem alien to be exercising your stomach muscles during pregnancy. I mean, there’s a baby growing in there. Will every sit-up squish the baby? Whereas it might not be possible to crunch as hard as it you could pre-pregnancy, it’s still possible for mamas to keep their core strength without impacting your baby. Let’s not start expecting six packs to spring up, but there are a wealth of benefits to improving and maintaining core strength during pregnancy.

In this excerpt from Mama You’ve Got This, an honest guide to pregnancy, Melissa Schweiger Kleinman, puts mamas minds at rest and keep their tummies in shape.



Doing abdominal exercises while you’re harbouring a fugitive inside your tummy can seem like the ultimate twist of irony. You may not be rewarded with a perfect six pack but tummy strengthening exercises can greatly improve your ability to push during labour, as well as help keep your belly in shape for an easier road back to a trim middle. Another major benefit to strong abs during pregnancy that is they can help to alleviate some of that godawful back pain you might find yourself with whilst carrying around a baby in your belly.

Can you still do sit ups whilst pregnant?

Strengthening your core during pregnancy does require some modifications though. You should not be doing the same crunches you did at the gym prior to getting pregnant. Laying flat on your back, especially after the first trimester, is not a good idea as your enlarged uterus could possibly interfere with the vena cava, the vein that brings blood to your heart. Try using a pillow or something to prop your head above your heart while doing your core work.

Another thing to look out for is abdominal separation, which is a widening gap between the left and right sides of your abdominal muscle, that sometimes happens when your baby grows. While abdominal separation is typically not anything to get overly concerned about, it could put potential tension on the entire area and might require even further modifications on your exercise routine. Ask your doctor about this and they’ll be able to tell if you do indeed have it.

Here are some top pregnancy-friendly ab exercises. As always, speak to your doctor or midwife before embarking on a new exercise routine.

Standing Crunches:

• Stand with your feet hip-width apart.

• Draw your belly button into your spine, tuck your pelvis slightly under and bring your fingertips to your ears.

• Crunch forward and squeeze your abdominal muscles (just like you would if you were lying on your back).

• Release with control.

Heel Slides:

• Lie on your back with your upper back, neck and head propped up above your heart.

• Place your palms on the ground along your sides for support.

• Bend both knees and bring your feet in toward your bum.

• Remain with the heel hovering above the ground and extend one leg at a time.

• Bring it back in to starting position.

• Repeat with alternate sides.

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Tilly Doody-Henshaw

Tilly Doody-Henshaw

Writer and expert

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