You probably know that exercise can be beneficial during pregnancy. But it’s not always as clear what’s considered safe when it comes to abdominal exercise. Get the abs answers and moves that can help.

Some pregnant women fear that abdominal exercises during pregnancy could hurt them or their baby. But abdominal exercises can actually be beneficial for moms‐to‐be, helping support good posture and stability during pregnancy. Once you have your doctor’s OK and are aware of any precautions to keep in mind, ab exercises can fit into your pregnancy fitness plan. Here are some simple moves you can do at home.

Pregnancy Leg Lifts

Leg lifts are a great way to strengthen the back and abdominal muscles. However, during pregnancy, leg lifts should be modified from the traditional way, to avoid lying on your back after the first trimester. 

  1. Get on your hands and knees, with your arms locked and your hands directly under your shoulders.
  2. Raise your left knee and straighten your leg behind you until it’s parallel to the floor.
  3. Bend your leg and lower your knee to the floor. Repeat with your right leg. Work up to 10 repetitions on each side.

V‐Sits

Modified core and abdominal‐strengthening exercises can be smart choices. One to try:

  1. Sit on a Bosu Balance Trainer (a large exercise ball with a flat bottom, so it’s basically half the ball), with both feet firmly on the ground and your arms straight in front of you.
  2. Slowly lean back until you feel your abdominal muscles contract. Hold for a few seconds before returning to the starting position. Slowly work up to 10 repetitions.

Tip: You can purchase a Bosu Balance Trainer in sporting‐goods stores or sections.

Pelvic Tilts

Here’s a move that will strengthen your abdominal muscles and even help minimize back pain during labor.

  1. Get on your hands and knees, keeping your head level with your back.
  2. Pull in your stomach, pushing up with your back, like you’re making a camel hump.
  3. Hold the position for a few seconds, then relax without letting your stomach muscles sag. Repeat three to five times, building to 10 repetitions.

Prenatal Core Workouts

You may be working your core and abdominal areas without realizing it. Swimming, walking, stationary biking, and doing prenatal yoga work your entire body, including your core and stomach muscles. Plus, these workouts don’t require a lot of balance and coordination, which can get thrown off in the later stages of pregnancy as your belly gets larger and your center of gravity changes.

Ab Exercises while Pregnant: Gentle Reminders

  • Listen to your body. While it’s good to strengthen your abdominal muscles and core, being too aggressive can result in diastasis recti, which is the separation of the abdominal muscles, possibly causing a bulge in your abdomen. Stop if you’re feeling dizzy or short of breath or experiencing any pain.
  • Make modifications. Certain ab exercises, like leg lifts, need to be modified so you’re not laying flat on your back, which is not recommended after the first trimester of pregnancy. When you lie on your back, the baby is pressing on the inferior vena cava, which may interfere with blood circulation. Instead, make sure to do abdominal exercises sitting up. 
  • Go slow. Pregnancy hormones make your ligaments more pliable, so they’re able to stretch as needed, but this can also increase the risk of injury. Start slow with new exercises, and if you’re unsure how to do a move correctly, ask a fitness professional for help.