Pregnancy changes a woman’s body forever—although you might be forgiven for thinking this is not the case after reading the celebrity magazines and seeing how all the celebrity mums manage to snap back into shape with the greatest of ease. But for the rest of us mere mortals who do not have the benefit of a personal trainer, it is sensible to ask: Can I do sit ups while pregnant?
Generally speaking, sit ups are not recommended for pregnant women. During the first three months, you might not even be aware you are pregnant and could still be visiting the gym regularly. If you have strong abdominal muscles already and regularly practice sit ups as part of your fitness regime, you are unlikely to experience any issues during the first three months of your pregnancy.
However, after month 4 of a pregnancy, any exercise that involves lying flat on your back is dangerous for you and the baby. This is because the uterus is growing bigger and when you lie down on your back the weight of it can compress a major blood vessel, the vena cava. If this happens, it causes the blood pressure to drop to dangerously low levels, which will put you and your unborn baby at risk.
Can I do sit ups while pregnant?
While practicing full sit ups during pregnancy is not considered safe, it is still a good idea to perform some abdominal strengthening exercises. Having strong abdominal muscles will help your body revert back to its original shape as soon as possible following the birth, plus strong abs will help you prepare for the labour. Strong abdominal muscles are part of the core muscles that improve posture and maintaining a strong core will also help to protect against back pain that often inflicts women in the later stages of pregnancy.
As your pregnancy advances, you will find it impossible to do proper sits due to the size of your belly, but there are other exercises you can do to keep your abdominal muscles in good shape.
Crouching on all fours on the floor and arching your back up like an angry cat, holding the pose before relaxing again will help to tone the abdominal muscles and relieve back pain. Mini sit ups are another form of abdominal exercise pregnant women can do if they feel fit enough. Simply lie on your back with a pillow under one hip so you are not completely flat, lift your head and shoulders off the floor, exhale and tighten your abs. This simple exercise can be repeated ten times, twice per day for as long as you feel well. If at any point you suffer from discomfort, stop the exercises immediately.
But above all, try not to get too hung up on the idea of having a flat stomach post-pregnancy—strong abdominals are useful, but at the end of the day, there is more to life than having a stomach as flat as a pancake—your new baby is far more important!