Core Work While Pregnant
Disclaimer: The following information is based on personal experience and research. BE SURE to consult your physician prior to engaging in exercise and/or activities that seem questionable in your pregnant state. We are all different.
While you watch you watch your belly grow, it's hard not to wonder if there is anything you can do to stay in shape and keep a strong core. I know that I have... if it helps me during labor or recovery, I'm all about it. In fact, working that core while pregnant can have many benefits to possibly include a faster labor!
It will definitely be a little challenging as the weeks pass to perform moves that you were once doing with no problem but there are still abdominal exercises that are safe for pregnant mamas. As I entered my second trimester, I modified several moves... ONLY to have to modify them again in my third trimester. It's important we listen to our bodies and not our egos. It is OK to modify!
So what exactly happens to your abdominals during pregnancy? Well... obviously we get the baby bump but there is more going on in there. There is a ridge that runs from the bottom of the breast bone to the middle on the belly, this is the diastasis recti. It is essentially a gap between the right and left sided of the ab muscles. There is the possibility of separation. You will be able to identify it by a gap that is an inch or so wide. Good news is, this will heal but it could call for some modification to your core exercises.
With the approval from your physician there are a wide array of core exercises that are safe for pregnancy.
After the first trimester it is suggested that you avoid exercises that require you to lay on your back. The increased weight of your uterus can cause the compression of the vena cava which could cause dizziness or nausea. This can be alleviated by incorporating an exercise ball, wedge, or essentially just keep your heart above your bellybutton. Another method of modification is to change the positions in which the moves are performed, such as doing the moves standing or on your side.
If you do notice diastasis recti, avoid moves such crunches, sit-ups, or moves that can the abdominals to bulge.
Exercises that help prevent diastasis recti.
Heel drops (prop on elbows)
Standing side crunch