Question: I heard you’re not supposed to work out your abs at all during pregnancy. Is that true?
False! Strong core muscles will help you avoid lower back pain caused by your growing belly during pregnancy, as well as make labour and recovery easier. But you do need to choose your core-strengthening moves wisely.
Steer clear of exercises such as full sit-ups, crunches and leg lifts that put too much pressure on the core and belly. And after the first trimester, you should avoid any exercises that require you to lie flat on your back, as this puts pressure on a vein known as the inferior vena cavena and can make you feel dizzy.
Instead, focus on exercises such as the plank, standing pelvic tilts, seated knee lifts and seated belly breathing that will strengthen the deeper muscles of your core.
Another option is yoga, a form of exercise which will deliver you both physical and mental benefits.
Genea Holistic’s Patricia Diaz agrees that exercises focused on strengthen are a good plan during pregnancy.
“Yoga is particularly useful during pregnancy as it also helps to stretch the muscles you will be calling on during childbirth. However, as with all of your exercise plans, it pays to check with your doctor or instructor before starting,” Ms Diaz said.
Aqua exercise is also a great option during pregnancy.
The buoyancy of water supports the growing body and reduces up to 100% of your body weight depending on the depth. This is great for pelvic floor muscles, the lumbar and thoracic spines and the pelvic girdle joints. You can work out safely and comfortably right up to full term.
Water’s natural pressure, called hydrostatic pressure, has a fantastic effect on the maternal circulation, boosting blood flow to the core including the placenta. This makes exercise very safe for the foetus. Many studies have demonstrated positive foetal well-being with water exercise. The hydrostatic pressure drives fluid out of the swollen tissues, especially from the lower limbs and ankles, back into the circulation so it’s very helpful in the third trimester.
The other good thing about water exercise is that it keeps the maternal body temperature from over-heating which is very important for foetal safety. A new article has just been published in the Journal of Physiotherapy regarding the correct water temperatures for pregnant women to exercise in. This is a free open-access scientific journal.