Benefits of Ab Work

Abdominal workouts will help you better handle the nine months leading up to pregnancy as well as the birthing process itself. As your belly gets bigger, your posture can be adversely affected. Strengthening your abdominals will help you counter the extra load you’ll be carrying in front of you so that you’re better able to maintain proper posture. Registered Nurse Julie Tupler, who’s also the founder of Diastasis Rehab in New York, adds that stronger abdominal muscles will help you push with greater force while giving birth. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, exercise during pregnancy improves maternal fitness, restricts unnecessary weight gain without compromising the fetus and improves recovery postpartum.

Accepting Belly Gain

Your belly cannot remain completely flat during pregnancy, as your baby requires adequate room to develop. During your first trimester, weight gain will be minor and will likely consist of gains up to 10 pounds. However, throughout the second and third trimester, expect to put on about 22 to 35 extra pounds, with most of the weight being centered around your belly and pelvis. Once you give birth, you’ll begin to lose the excess fat at your belly. According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, most women will lose about 20 pounds within a month of giving birth. Regularly exercising throughout your pregnancy will facilitate this process.

Safe Abdominal Exercises

According to obstetrician Jeanne-Marie Guise, abdominal exercises performed on your back are completely safe during the first trimester. She adds that during the second trimester, it’s a good idea to avoid lying on your back. As you gain more weight in your belly, that weight can compress blood vessels leading to your heart, which can prevent blood flow from reaching your baby. When you’re pregnant, your body has a more difficult time cooling itself. Therefore, when exercising, wear loose-fitting clothing, work out in a cool environment and drink plenty of water.

Effective Abdominal Exercises

Up through the first trimester, incorporate abdominal exercises while lying on your back. This could include crunches or sit-ups. A 2002 study by the American Council on Exercise found that bicycle crunches and straight leg crunches are among the most effective abdominal exercises. From the second trimester on, however, only incorporate abdominal exercises that don’t involve lying on your back, such as knee lifts on a Captain’s chair or front plank.