Doing Sit-Ups or Abdominal Crunches during Pregnancy – Is It Safe?

A Pregnant woman doing sit

Being pregnant does not preclude a daily exercise regimen. In fact, various studies have shown that exercising during pregnancy can actually improve both physical and emotional health. If your pregnancy is going as expected and your baby is healthy, there is no need to refrain from some mild workout routine. Exercise can also ease labour pains and delivery due to increased flexibility and muscle strength in your abdomen and pelvic regions. Of these exercises, sit-ups or abdominal crunches are among the most important workouts to strengthen your core muscles. This article will help you understand how to perform sit-ups during pregnancy, its benefits as well as any risk factors.

Can Pregnant Women Do Sit-Ups?

Crunches during the first trimester are very easy and quite safe. In fact, they are recommended in moderate amounts for the first 4 months in your pregnancy. However, it is essential to ensure you perform the exercises with the right precautions. Find a comfortable place to workout, keep an eye out for any physical or mood changes, and stop immediately if you experience any symptoms like pain.

Continuing crunches into your second and third trimesters might produce symptomatic effects like ashen skin, vomiting, fainting, dizziness and so on. This occurs because the increase in the size of the foetus cramps up the internal abdominal space, and might even exert pressure on the vena cava, the large vein which supplies the heart with oxygen-poor blood. As the blood circulation towards the heart slows, you may experience disoriented states. If these occur, lie down on the left side of your body, allowing blood supply to your heart to continue. Alternatively, you can do other yoga exercises for the abdomen.

Should You Check-up with a Doctor Before Starting to Exercise?

It is always a good idea to consult your doctor before doing anything that could put a strain on your pregnancy. If you did regular exercise and your pregnancy has minimal complications, your doctor might permit you to continue. Remember that exercises that strain your body can lead to problems, so stick to light training.

A pregnant woman at doctor's

How Can Sit-ups be Done?

Sit-ups, also known as abdominal crunches, require no equipment or gym membership. You can do them in the comfort of your own room.

  1. Place a mat on the floor and lie on your back flat against it.
  2. Bend your legs at the knees, keeping your soles firmly against the floor.
  3. Put your hands behind your head to begin.
  4. First, breathe out and lift your entire torso towards your knees.
  5. Breathe in and return back to your starting position. This counts as one rep.
  6. Perform the exercise in three sets of ten reps each.
  7. Remember, there is no rest time between each rep, but around two minutes before each set.
  8. Over time, you can increase the number of sets or reps.

Things to Remember While Doing Sit-ups When Pregnant

Here is a list of things to remember when performing crunches during pregnancy.

  • As a rule, drink enough water and have a balanced diet to avoid any physical weakness or muscle cramps.
  • Don’t wear any items of clothing that can cut off circulation or breathing.
  • Do your workouts indoors and out of the harsh sunlight, if possible.
  • Remember that you don’t have to be strict about your workout routine during your pregnancy. It is alright to miss out now and then.
  • Keep the exercises light so your body temperature does not get too high, as this could cause complications.
  • Don’t exercise if you are ill, tired, or if you experience any unexpected symptoms.
  • Workout only when you feel like it; your body is an excellent judge of its own ability, listen to it.
  • A twin pregnancy absolutely precludes abdominal crunches, please do not attempt them.
  • Avoid doing more than twenty reps in a single set.

Benefits of Doing Sit-ups during the First Trimester of Pregnancy

Crunches make your abs stronger, that is they improve the elasticity and hardness of your rectus abdominis muscles.

  • It leads to a stronger core, which improves your overall strength.
  • It can lower the risk or intensity of lower back pain, a common pregnancy symptom.
  • It improves the support given to the back muscles which endure great strain due to the pressure from your growing uterus.
  • It helps with developing and maintaining better balance and posture.
  • It is known to ease labour because of the support given to the pelvic muscles.
  • It keeps the abdominal region in shape to help you can recover faster after giving birth.
  • It makes normal delivery a lot easier.

When to Stop Doing Sit-Ups While Pregnant?

Here are five reasons to stop doing crunches when you are pregnant.

  • If you are feeling dizzy or lightheaded.
  • If you are experiencing any headaches.
  • If you are feeling any strange pain or discomfort in the abdomen.
  • If you are finding it difficult to breathe.
  • If you are experiencing any bleeding or discharge from the vagina.

Why Should You Avoid Doing Sit-Ups During the Second and Third Trimester?

As mentioned earlier, sit-ups should be avoided during the second and third trimesters. Here are some reasons why:

  • The weight of the baby will lower the blood flow towards the foetus, depriving it of nutrients and oxygen.
  • There is an increased risk of falling due to a loss of balance when getting into position.
  • Crunches during the later months of pregnancy can increase the likelihood of developing a hernia. This is because your abs might get overstretched, that is, they can get thinner.

The standard myth about sit-ups exerting pressure on the baby is false. In fact, it is important to improve core abdominal strength during pregnancy to remain healthy and have a successful delivery. However, crunches are not the only exercises you can do in this regard. Other exercises include planks, exercise ball workouts, breathing exercises and so on. Ensure you add a bit of flavour to your daily routine so you don’t get bored.

Also Read: Butter Exercise while Pregnant