8 Ab Exercises during Pregnancy that are Recommended by a Physical Therapist

There is so much conflicting information during pregnancy about what to do and what not. When it comes to ab exercises during pregnancy, it can get even more confusing! So, in this article we'll tackle some of that confusing. Here's what we'll figure out in this article:

ab exercises during pregnancy

Is it Safe to do Ab Exercises during Pregnancy?

Yes, it is definitely safe to do ab exercises during pregnancy. While there are some exercises we want to avoid (and we'll go over below), it is actually beneficial to do ab exercises during pregnancy. Exercises that focus on the core can be safe with effective modifications.

We have a guide tailored to helping you get the most out of your pregnancy core workouts.

What are the Benefits of Ab Exercises during Pregnancy?

Performing ab exercises while you are pregnant helps build a strong core and foundation to carry you through the demands of pregnancy. Not only can it help prevent things like back pain or hip pain during pregnancy, strong ab muscles can help you work through the demands of labor as well.

Exercising during pregnancy can help improve postpartum recovery. While there are a lot of factors that go into this (what labor and delivery were like for you), generally speaking, exercise can help. Additionally, some women are concerned about diastasis recti. While ab exercises cannot prevent it completely, they can help minimize the risk.

Are there Ab Exercises to Avoid?

Generally speaking, anything that could pose a risk to your baby bump should be avoided. As your belly grows, it's important to avoid exercises that would require you to lay on your stomach. You can modify these types of exercises by moving into a quadruped position on hands and knees instead. Any exercise that could result in impact to the belly should be avoided as well. This could include things like cleans and snatches. Lastly, any exercise that increases the risk of a fall during pregnancy should be avoided.

Once you get to around 22 weeks, you also want to limit time on your back. This can affect blood flow to you and baby. However, if you notice any nausea, light-headedness, or trouble breathing while laying on your back before that, then limit that position.

Additionally, any exercises that cause the following should be avoided:

  • Pelvic or abdominal pressure
  • Pain or discomfort in the abs or pelvic floor
  • Coning or doming of the abdomen
  • Leakage

8 Ab Exercises during Pregnancy: Safe for You and Baby

Even though there are exercises that will need to wait for the postpartum period, there are a wide variety of exercises that are perfectly safe during pregnancy. This list is certainly not exhaustive and doesn't include everything. But these 8 exercises will target the entire "360" core from the front, to the back, to the sides.

  1. Deep Core Activation
  2. Bird Dog
  3. Modified Planks
  4. Standing Oblique Dip
  5. Farmer's Carry
  6. Bear Plank
  7. Small Bridge on Exercise Ball
  8. Ballerina Bends 

Do You Need more Help?

It can be hard to sort through all of the information on your own and know what is safe and what's not safe. Expecting and Empowered has created an amazing pregnancy and postpartum workout app to help guide you through all stages of pregnancy and then every phase of postpartum recovery. The workouts were created by a physical therapist and nurse who have years of experience working with pregnant and postpartum mamas.

Want to learn more about exercise during pregnancy or need more guidance? Check out the Expecting and Empowered App! If you use our link and enter code SIMPLI, you'll get $20 off an annual subscription! If you're not ready to commit to an entire year, you can get $5 off a monthly subscription!

We've also created a guide for core and pelvic floor strengthening during pregnancy that you can check out here

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I may receive a small commission for that product at no extra cost to you. All opinions are my own.

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