18 Safe Abdominal (Ab) Exercises To Perform During Pregnancy

Ab Exercises During Pregnancy

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Are you pregnant and thinking about how you can continue to stay fit and healthy without hurting your unborn baby? Do you want to try some abdominal or ab exercises during pregnancy that will tone the muscles in your abdomen and help you throughout till the childbirth?

If you are looking for some pregnancy ab exercises that are safe and will also offer you additional health and fitness benefits, scroll down to check out our exercise recommendations.

Best Ab Exercises During Pregnancy:

When you are pregnant, it is important to stay fit and maintain your daily exercise routine after you consult your doctor about it. In some cases, your doctor will ask you to stay away from any other form of exercise other than walking. It depends on your overall health, the way your pregnancy is progressing, and also the level of activity or exercise you undertook earlier.

Being fit and exercising during your pregnancy will help your body stay flexible and prepare for the big day, the birth of yo

ur baby. Abdominal exercises help keep your muscles flexible, something that is important while giving birth. So once you get the go-ahead from your medical practitioner, make sure you try the following abdominal exercises during pregnancy, here:

1. Sitting Knee Lift:

  • Take a sturdy chair and sit down near the edge.
  • Keep your feet flat on the floor and make sure you place them directly under your knees.
  • Take your hands with the palms facing downwards and put them on your hips.
  • Slowly, start contracting your abdomen in such a way that your pelvis starts to tilt.
  • Hold the position and slowly bring your bent left knee back towards your chest.
  • Start lowering your left foot to the floor while contracting your abs.
  • Use your abs to hold on to the position.
  • Slowly release the tilt to a neutral position and repeat all the above steps.
  • At first, perform all the repetitions with your left leg. Once you complete those, move on to the right leg and perform all your repetitions using your right leg.
  • In your first trimester, do about 2 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions. In your second and third trimesters, do about 1 to 2 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions, depending on how comfortable you are.
  • You can also try and attach a 1 to 3-pound weight to each ankle while doing the exercise in your first trimester.

[ Read: Safe Cardio Exercises During Pregnancy ]

2. Side Lying Crunch:

  • Lie down on your left side and bend your knees at a 30-degree angle to your hips.
  • Slowly roll your body towards your right side, so that you only have to lift your knees about six inches from the floor.
  • Make sure that your body weight rests on the back of your left shoulder as well as your shoulder blade.
  • Take both your hands and place them behind your head. Take care that your fingertips are touching but your fingers should not be in a clasping pose. Your elbows should also be in an open pose.
  • Curl your torso upwards in a diagonal position. At the same time, bring your breastbone towards your right knee.
  • While you are doing the above steps, your left shoulder will only lift a little from the floor.
  • Take both your arms towards your knees and make them curl a little higher.
  • Now place your hands in a backward position behind your head and lower yourself to the starting position.
  • Repeat all the above steps again.
  • Perform one set of six repetitions. Once you are done, change your side to repeat on the other side. As you get comfortable, move on to doing about 12 repetitions instead of just 6.

3. Core Breath:

  • Sit down comfortably with your back straight. Position both your hands on the ribs on your side.
  • Inhale and open your ribs outwards towards your side. Take a deep breath.
  • Adjust your posture so that can take in a good amount of air.
  • Next, slowly start exhaling the air. As you breathe out, bring your ribs back to a closing position. Contract the front of your pelvis and your tailbone while relaxing your stomach.
  • Repeat the steps.

[ Read: Effective Breathing Exercises During Pregnancy ]

4. Seated Ball Stability Hold:

For the particular pregnancy ab workout, you will need to use a stability ball. If you are not comfortable using one or haven’t used one before, ask your partner or a friend to help you balance while you sit.

  • Sit down on a stability ball and keep your posture straight, with your back erect.
  • Take both your hands and place them on each side to help you maintain your balance.
  • Exhale, with the main focus on breathing out from your core. As you are exhaling, lift one foot off the ground and simultaneously lift your opposite arm up and over your head.
  • Hold your breath for about two to three seconds.
  • Return to the starting position and repeat all the steps using the other arm and foot.

5. Side Plank:

  • Lie down on your side comfortably.
  • Now place one of your elbows directly under your shoulder.
  • Bend your knees and stack them one on top of the other.
  • Make sure that you keep your spine neutral at this time. Start concentrating on your core breathing.
  • Squeeze your hips and bring them forward until your hips are above the floor.
  • Hold the position for about 20 to 30 seconds. Make sure you keep breathing normally.
  • Once you are done, repeat the same steps on the other side.

[ Read: Is It Safe To Do Plank Exercises During Pregnancy ]

6. The Standing Crunch:

  • Stand straight by placing your feet as wide as your hips. Make sure that your knees are slightly bent. Also, raise your hands and place them behind your head.
  • Suck your belly button in and bring it inwards towards your spine. Tuck your pelvis and bring your fingertips to your ears.
  • Now slowly crunch forwards and squeeze the muscles in your abdomen. Do it in such a way as you would do if you were lying down on your back.
  • Perform 15 to 20 repetitions.

7. The Standing Bicycle:

  • Place your feet as wide as your hips.
  • Start crunching forward and lift your right knee towards your chest. Now twist your right such that your left elbow comes towards your right knee.
  • Replace your foot and get back to the original standing position.
  • Raise your left knee and twist it such that your right elbow comes towards your left knee.
  • Repeat the steps at least 10 to 20 times.

8. Standing Toe Touches:

  • Stand straight and place your feet as wide as your hips.
  • Now gently pull your belly button inwards towards the spine. While doing so, tuck your pelvis under you.
  • As you are doing this, raise both your arms upwards and place them straight above your head.
  • Slowly bend forward from your waist in such a way that your chest and your arms come forward.
  • While you are bending forward, slowly raise your right leg in front of you and make sure it is straight.
  • Now bring your leg back to the ground and stretch your arms back up in the air.
  • Repeat the steps using your left leg. Do the steps on each side for about 10 to 12 times each.

[ Read: Safe stretching exercises For Pregnant Women ]

9. The Plank:

For this particular ab workout during pregnancy, you will have to start with your hands and knees.

  • Place your forearms on the floor in such a position that they are placed directly below your shoulders.
  • Slowly rise up on your toes in such a way that your body takes the shape of a flat line.
  • As you do the step, pull your belly button inwards towards your spine. Squeeze your hips at the same time as you are pulling your belly button inside.
  • Hold the position for at least 10 to 60 seconds.

10. Kegels:

For this particular exercise, you will need an exercise ball.

  • Sit down comfortably on the exercise ball and inhale nice and full. While you are breathing in, let your belly rise as the air fills in. Once you have inhaled enough, slowly exhale to let all the air out.
  • Make sure to match your inhalation length to that of your exhalation length.
  • The next time that you exhale try to tighten the muscles that are located in your vagina. If you are not able to do so on the first try, imagine a situation where you need to use the bathroom badly to pee, but are forced to hold your pee. Contract and tighten the muscles around your vagina as if you are stopping yourself from peeing.
  • Now relax your neck, face and shoulders. At this point, only the muscles of your pelvic floor should feel tight and contracted. Hold the pose for about the count of five to eight and then slowly release.
  • Try and do at least 20 times per day, and aim to do a little more as you can.

11. Squat:

  • Stand straight and keep your feet wide apart. Make sure that they are direct below your hips and are placed as wide apart as your hips.
  • Bring your arms forward and cross them right in front of your chest.
  • Now slowly squat down. If you feel you are out of balance or are not able to do it initially, ask your partner or a friend to hold on to you so that you can gain back your balance. Once you try it out a few times you will slowly get more comfortable doing this, so do not give up.
  • While you are squatting, make sure that you press your heels into the floor.
  • Keep squatting and coming downwards towards the floor as much as you comfortably can.
  • While you are squatting down, make sure that you keep your shoulders, your back and your abs controlled in such a way that you can feel the pressure there.
  • Slowly get back to your original position. Try doing two sets with 15 repetitions each.
  • Once you enter the second trimester, you may find it more and more difficult to squat down. You can still continue the same exercise by squatting down just a little, as much as you are comfortable.

[ Read: Benefits Of Practicing Squats During Pregnancy ]

12. Cat Cow Pose:

  • Get down on the floor on your hands and legs. Make sure that your hands are positioned exactly under your shoulders and your knees are directly under your hips.
  • Start inhaling and look upwards towards the ceiling. Make sure to arch your back as you do so.
  • Next, as you exhale, tuck in your chin and your tailbone. At the same time, pull your belly button towards your spine.
  • Keep shifting between inhaling and exhaling and try to match your breathing to your movements as much as you can.
  • Repeat the steps for two minutes and then take a break before resuming again. It is one of the safe ab exercises during pregnancy.

13. Side-Lying Leg Lifts:

  • Lie down comfortably on your left side. Place your left elbow on the ground so that it can properly support your upper body.
  • Now slowly lift up your right leg. Try and lift it as high up as you can but make sure that your hips are in a straight line, stacked one on top of the other.
  • Bring your leg down to about two inches above your left leg.
  • Keep repeating the steps for 20 repetitions with each leg. Keep doing till your legs start to feel tired.

[ Read: Butterfly Exercise During Pregnancy ]

14. Bird Dog:

  • Get down on the floor on your knees and elbows. Before you begin, make sure that your wrists are placed directly under your shoulders, and your knees are placed directly under your hips.
  • Make sure that your back remains straight. Also, make sure that you keep the muscles around your abdomen tight.
  • Now slowly lift your left leg and extend it in a straight line behind you. As you do this step, the muscles around your abdomen area should be tight. You have to take your leg back in such a way that it remains in parallel position to your body.
  • At the same time that you are doing this step, lift up your right arm and bring it straight in front of you.
  • Pause for a while and hold the step, and then slowly start breathing as you release your pose and return to your original position. Now repeat the same steps using the opposite leg and hand.

15. Standing Pelvic Tilt:

  • Stand near a wall and make sure your spine is straight and your posture is erect. Place your back and your hips against the wall and your heels should be about 12 to 18 inches away from the wall. As you stand like this, you will notice a small space between the wall and your lower back. Make sure you maintain this distance before starting the exercise.
  • Start flexing in your abs, so that you feel a little pressure, and your hips start to tilt backward. As you do this step, your lower back will start flattening itself against the wall.
  • Hold the pose for about five seconds and release. Repeat the steps ten times.

16. Hip Hiker:

  • Lie down comfortably on your side and make sure that you bend your bottom leg. While you are doing this, your top leg should be straight. You can use a pillow to help support your head if you are feeling uncomfortable otherwise.
  • Now raise your top leg about two to four inches from the ground. Hold the position.
  • Keep your leg straight. At the same time, use the muscles on the side of your abdomen to help you pull your hip upwards towards your shoulder.
  • Hold the pose for about five seconds. Repeat the steps for ten times. Once you are done, repeat the same steps with the other leg.

[ Read: Safe Hip Exercises During Pregnancy ]

17. No Crunch Crunches:

  • Lie down comfortably on your back and make sure your knees are bent. At this step, your feet should be planted firmly on the floor.
  • Take your hands and place them in such a way that they are positioned below and to the side of your belly button. Slowly press two fingers of each hand into your lower abdomen. Make sure that you do this step very gently and do not hurt yourself in the process.
  • Now very slowly push down on your lower abdomen. Make sure that you do not move your pelvis at all, do not raise your chest upwards and do not hold your breath.
  • Once the muscles of your abdomen start to feel tight, stop immediately. The muscles should feel tight under your fingers.
  • Hold the position for about ten seconds and then release. Repeat the same ten times.

18. Scissor Kicks:

You should perform the scissor kick exercise only in your first trimester. Even if you feel comfortable doing it in your second or third trimester, stay away from doing so.

  • Lie down comfortably on your back. Place your hands under your hips and make sure they are placed flat. Keep your back as flat as you possibly can against the floor.
  • Now slowly raise one leg till the time it is about ten inches up from the ground.
  • Next, start lowering the leg that you raised even as you start raising the other leg in the same way as you did with the other leg earlier.
  • Do three sets of ten scissor kicks and make sure you take a little rest in between each set.

Tips While Performing Abdominal Exercises While Pregnant:

The first and foremost thing to remember before you do any exercise while you are pregnant is to take your doctor’s advice and confirmation. Your doctor will assess your physical condition, the overall health of your pregnancy and other factors into consideration. Only then your doctor will tell you whether or not it is safe for you to continue with exercises, and if yes, till when.

Here are a few safety tips you should follow while you are performing these ab exercises while pregnant:

  • During the first trimester, as long as you feel comfortable, you can increase the intensity of your exercise. You can do this by increasing the number of repetitions. You can also increase the intensity of the exercise by adding a little weight to your exercise.
  • As you move to your second and third trimester, make sure to tone down the intensity of your workout. You might also need to stop doing a few of the exercises completely, as they could be difficult to carry out while you are pregnant, or may hurt you or your unborn baby.
  • Sometimes, you may need to use props to do certain abdominal exercises. If you have not used the props, such as an exercise ball, earlier, make sure you ask your partner or a friend to help you adjust to the same the first few times. Ask for help so that you can balance yourself properly and get the hang of it. It will prevent a nasty fall or the risk of sudden injury. Once you have practiced a few times with the help of a support, you can slowly start doing it by yourself.
  • Always stay hydrated before you set out to do any exercise. Make sure you drink water and fresh liquids throughout the day. You can keep a bottle of infused water near you, something you can sip on in between your sets. It is also a great way to keep you hydrated and keep you feeling recharged for the day.
  • Making your abdominal muscles stronger will help make them more flexible. It will help you during labor and at the time of birth, as it will be easier for you to push your baby out during birthing.

[ Read: Exercises to Avoid During Pregnancy ]

Try the above pregnancy abdominal exercises to keep your belly fit and strong, but speak to your doctor first.

Did you try any abdominal exercise during pregnancy? How did it help you during labor? Share your story with us here.

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