Abdominal Exercises During Pregnancy – Types and Benefits

6 min read

Written by Ambili Kartha

Ambili Kartha

Abdominal Exercises During Pregnancy - Types And Benefits Each pregnancy is unique and the way each woman embraces her pregnancy is different. Exercising during pregnancy has benefits that are manifold. Adopting the guidelines of abdominal exercises for safe pregnancy and child birthing is essential. There is a variation and ability for each woman who has conceived. Women are given the green signal to do workouts or abdominal exercises during their pregnancy.

Abdominal exercises are recommended during pregnancy for overall health and as an aid for a healthier delivery and recuperation after that. One key point is approval from your doctor to go ahead with abdominal exercises. Abdominal workouts are initiated in the first twelve weeks of your conception. Safety is a top priority when it comes to abdominal exercises during your pregnancy. If you attend exercise classes, ensure that your teacher has the necessary qualifications and is aware of your history of pregnancy.

In This Article

Benefits of Abdominal Exercises During Pregnancy

Abdominal exercises strengthen your pelvic organs during the course of pregnancy. Having strong abs helps maintain a proper posture and reduces back pain. Apart from relieving lower back pressure and pain, it effectively keeps your muscles and body in shape.

Core strengthening exercises can be safely performed to keep up with the demands of pregnancy. Your spine and pelvic region are stabilized to maintain balance. The core comprises of back, abdomen, and trunk. Abdominal exercises support and help with the proper functioning of the core.

Top 5 Abdominal Exercises During Pregnancy

 The basis for a good pregnancy is having a solid core. Considerably, it withstands lower back arching and the subsequent pain in the course of labor.

1. Side Plank

side plank

Planks strengthen your back and Abs and are viable to lessen spine pressure.

  • Lie down comfortably on the floor
  • Begin with your left elbow placed beneath your shoulder.
  • Hips to face forward in a stacked position
  • Legs to be stretched long
  • A modification is to bend your knees
  • Raise or lift your right hip to enhance or engage your core sides
  • For balance, use the side of your bottom foot
  • A change in position can be done by balancing on your bottom knee while stretching your top legs, and also resting your foot on the floor for more balance
  • The position of the plank exercise is for 20 seconds, and your leg is to be lowered down gently.
  • Next, repeat this exercise on the opposite side of your body.
  • Alternate sides- 3 each side to a total of 6 repeats

2. Standing Crunch

It is safe to do crunches during your first trimester. After the trimester, avoid crunches as they apply pressure on the veins carrying blood to your heart.

  • Start the crunches by standing with your feet apart and toes slightly turned outward
  • Knees to be bent and positioned in a deep squat
  • Lift your chest and engage your core
  • Raise yourself to a standing position by pressing your heels
  • Extend your arms as you rotate through your knees, hips, and torso
  • Next squat again, and raise yourself by rotating on the opposite side
  • Standing crunches as 3 sets and 30 seconds each, while alternating the rotation

3. Standing Toe Touches

Standing toe touches enhance the flexibility of your hips and spine. During pregnancy, you tend to spend a long time sitting and standing where your muscles become tight and you find it tough to reach for your toes.

  • Stand with your feet apart, say a hip-width apart
  • Hips to be slightly arched
  • Slide your arms towards your feet slowly down your thighs and shins
  • Try to straighten your back and lower yourself gently
  • Hold these positions for 30 seconds and slowly raise yourself to the upright position
  • Repeat this thrice

4. Kegels

kegel exercise

Kegel exercises assist you with labor because they strengthen pelvic muscles.

  • Inhale and exhale comfortably and be relaxed completely
  • Only your pelvic muscles should be concentrated on
  • Tighten your muscles and hold for 3 seconds
  • Relax or rest for 3 seconds
  • 2 sets of Kegels around 10 to 15 on alternate days

At any point time during the standing toe touches, if you feel even the mildest discomfort, ease off, and stop the exercise.

[Read: Top 5 Benefits of Kegels during Pregnancy]

5. Sitting Knee Lift

Your hip mobility will increase thanks to this workout, making it easier for you to elevate your leg when standing.

  • Seat yourself comfortably toward the edge of your chair
  • Feet must be planted flat on the floor exactly under your knees.
  • Palms are to be placed facing downward under your hips.
  • Contract your abdomen slowly by bending your left knee in a way that tilts your pelvis and activates the pelvic.
  •  Slowly bring your left knee towards your chest as you exhale.
  • Inhale and lower your left foot to the floor back to your starting position.
  • Repeat this with your right leg.
  • Do 2-3 sets of 8 to 12 repeats

Safety Measures While Performing Abdominal Exercises When Pregnant 


Build an exercise routine and adopt the tips for a healthy and safe pregnancy

  • Be sure to drink plenty of water and keep yourself essentially hydrated
  • Exercises should be started gradually into your daily routine
  • Awareness of your body is important. The first signs of any discomfort can be read by you for your body will send warning signals and you need to slow down on your exercise.
  • Comfortable clothing makes exercise more enjoyable.  Wear loose clothing, belly support helps a lot and so does a sports bra
  • Avoid overdoing exercises during the hot weather
  • Never stand still or lie down flat

Make sure you are comfortable while exercising. Even mild exercises support a good pregnancy too. If you have a companion to walk you through your abdominal exercises, that is a safe way to work out.

[Read : How Much Water Should I Drink During Pregnancy?]

What is Abdominal Separation?

Abdominal Separation

To accommodate your body during your pregnancy, the abdominal muscles separate to an extent. This causes the fibrous tissue that holds the abdomen together, to separate leading to abdominal separation or Diastasis Recti. The separation causes a stretch in the abdominal muscle. As a result, there is a weakness in the middle section, and creates a visible gap in the muscles of the abdomen.

A bulge is created and stays so even after childbirth. Abdominal separation is common and more predominant during the first few weeks after delivery. Strong abs will sometimes resist abdominal separation and the gap will close on its own accord. Before it heals you should not start exercises like crunches or sit-ups.

How to Check For Abdominal Separation Before Exercising?

Before initiating your abdominal exercises, please check with your physician regarding your abdominal separation or Diastasis Recti.

  • Lie on your side first and then roll onto your back
  • Keep feet firmly on the floor and bend your knees at an angle of 90 degrees
  • Let your stomach relax
  • Gently place your fingers on your belly button
  • Raise your head an inch or two
  • Press your fingers and feel along your abdomen from side to side and check

The above steps are to be repeated two inches above and below your belly button. 

You will notice a gap and the width will be approximately two fingers width or more which denotes an abdominal separation.

On a note, learning about your body and the limitations of workouts like not going totally overboard is important. A healthy mass index is your goal for those keen on abdominal exercises, for they contribute towards hormonal regulation and a relaxed mind that embraces good sleep patterns.


1. When Should I Stop Abdominal Exercises During Pregnancy?

Pain in the chest or shortness of breath, nausea, and dizziness are the red signals to stop your abdominal exercises. Sometimes there is sudden swelling in the calves, ankles, and face. You may notice some vaginal bleeding and a reduction in the movement of the baby. Look out for these crucial signs and seek medical attention for safety measures.

Read Also: Prenatal Pilates Exercises Safe During All Trimesters

Ambili Kartha,B. Sc Zoology (St Xavier’s college for women)

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