There is a common misconception that you should not do ab work during pregnancy, but having a strong core is actually very important whether pregnant or not. As your belly gets bigger during pregnancy, your pelvis tilts forward, shortening the muscles in you lower back, which can lead to discomfort. Having a strong core can not only help to protect your back, but will also be helpful during the childbirth process and in the healing period post-partum. Therefore, as long as you are choosing moves that are safe and pre-natal approved, keeping your core strong throughout your pregnancy is important AND encouraged.
*Always make sure to check with your doctor before doing any exercise while pregnant.
Below is a pregnancy-safe core workout along with a breakdown of each exercise so that you understand the movement: At the very end is a mini-video of me doing the actual moves so you can have another visual if you need it!!
1.) Standing Rotational Twist
Stand with hands behind head, use your core to lift your leg and twist in the direction of the bent knee, alternating sides. Alternate legs for 1 minute.
2. ) Stand
ing Side Bend
Feet are a little wider than hip-width apart with a soft bend in knees, lean to one side, reaching a little past your knee, and use the opposite oblique to pull you back upright.
(For example, if you are leaning towards the left, focus on using your right oblique to lift you back up.) I love to do this one with a heavy weight in one hand (the leaning hand). Repeat for 1 minute before switching sides.
3.) Kneeling Oblique Crunch
Come down to hands and knees. Keep your left hand and left knee on the ground, roll open so that your right hand reaches to the sky and your right toes are touching the ground in line with your hip. Extend top arm overhead, sweeping your bicep by your ear. Use your oblique to pull your right knee and your right elbow towards one another in a crunch. Repeat for 1 minute before switching sides.
4.) Modified Side Plank with Hip Lifts
Keep left hand on the ground and bend your knees so they are stacked one on top of the other. Place your right hand on your hip and lift your hips so that only your bottom knee and your bottom hand are touching the ground. Slowly dip your bottom hip towards the ground one inch, and then lift back up to the starting position using that bottom oblique. Repeat for 30 seconds before switching sides.
5. ) Reverse Tabletop
Sit on your butt and place your hands right under your shoulders, heels on the ground, toes pointing up to the sky. Squeeze your glutes and engage your core as you lift your hips off of the ground into a reverse tabletop, feet come flat. Lower hips to ground and then repeat for 1 minute before switching sides.
I personally did planks my entire pregnancy, but would not recommend if you have diastassis recti or did not have a strong core prior to being pregnant. I say this because if you do not have a strong connection to your core, finding the abdominal engagement that it takes to hold a plank could be less beneficial during pregnancy. However, if you feel strong and have good form, a modified plank on your knees is a great way to strengthen your core without the weight of your belly impacting the exercise too much. Make sure to keep your shoulders stacked over your wrists, neck long, shoulders relaxed, and a slight tuck of your hips so your belly is not sagging. Try and hold for 30seconds.