Generally speaking, if you’re having a low-risk pregnancy, exercising throughout the 9 months you’re pregnant is perfectly safe. In fact, the guidance is to exercise 3-5 times a week for stints of 20-30 minutes, with a mixture of cardiovascular, strength work, stretching, pelvic floor focus and of course abdominal exercise. What you do need to be aware of though, are exercises that you should and shouldn’t do with particular reference to your abdominals.
So, today I’m listing 4 abdominal exercises every pregnant mum should avoid doing. There are plenty more variations of these movements bear in mind, but I’m listing my top 4 which most people are either a) familiar with, or b) commonly ask me if they’re safe/unsafe.
THE PLANK – The WORST exercise a pregnant woman can do, hence the reason it’s top of my Hit List. The Plank is a great exercise, it makes an appearance in pretty much every body conditioning class. People know and love it. It’s a staple move. But, I tell you what, it puts a tremendous amount of pressure on your abdominals, not to mention your pelvic floor. If you want to give your abdominal separation, then carry on. If you want a safer alternative, stick to Pregnancy Pilates.
SIT UPS – A non-effective exercise in its own right ie doing endless amounts of sit ups will not, I repeat will NOT get you a flat stomach. Performing them during pregnancy, and you’re not just putting your weakened abdominals at risk, you’re also putting your baby at risk too. It’s not safe after 12 weeks of pregnancy, to lie flat on your back. Your Midwife tells you not to sleep on your back, so what makes you think exercising flat on your back is any different? A Pilates workout specific to pregnancy, is so much more effective, ok?
LYING ON YOUR FRONT – Seriously? That’s comfortable? And, you think it’s ok to exercise in that position? Not only are your breasts incredibly tender during pregnancy, but, ummm….hello, where’s your bump at?! Bring yourself up on to your hands and knees instead of lying on your front. Not only is it safer for you and bump, but it’s a darn sight more comfortable too.
TWISTING/BENDING MOVEMENTS – Any exercise where you’re twisting at the waist/bending down to the side and back up, forcefully, with or without resistance, isn’t great for mums-to-be. So, think of those sit ups you do where you bring your elbow to your opposite knee, or you stand up with a handweight in one hand and bend down to the side. These are what I’m talking about. These movement works the oblique muscles and here’s that phrase again, it can cause abdominal separation. Something that’s best avoided during pregnancy.
And, it would be stupid of me as an Ante/Postnatal Fitness Expert to not inform you, just to give you some info for future reference, that if you’re considering doing any of these exercises post-birth, that’s a flat out “no” from me.
To download a quick step-by-step guide to safe abdominal exercise including 4 stages of pregnancy, click here.