Sit ups and Crunches
During your pregnancy, the “six-pack” muscle (the rectus abdominis) at the front of your tummy stretches and lengthens as your baby grows.
There is a thin ligament between the two halves of the muscle, which gently stretches to accommodate your growing baby. This creates a small space, often called tummy muscle separation- the official name is diastasis of the rectus abdominis muscle.
While this is a common occurrence during pregnancy, ideally we limit the separation of the muscles, so that they can continue to do the important job of supporting your spine, and to allow faster recovery after you’ve had your baby.
Sit ups and crunches create pressure on these muscles, so they are best avoided, particularly after 16 weeks, when any exercise in supine (lying down flat) is not recommended.
Sit ups also put downward pressure on the pelvic floor muscles, which may result in more pressure on these little muscles than they can handle!
The plank is a great exercise for activating your abdominal muscles, however when you are pregnant it puts too much pressure on your rectus abdominis muscle, and also puts a lot of downward pressure on your pelvic floor muscles.
We want to avoid overstretching of these muscles, so best to reintroduce plank a few months after you have had your baby, when your tummy muscles and pelvic floor don’t have the pressure of your growing bub to deal with.
Lifting heavy weights
Lifting weights is a great way to build muscle strength and tone, however light to moderate resistance is enough when you are pregnant. Heavy lifting creates a lot of pressure on your pelvic floor muscles, at a time when they are already stretched. So stick to lighter loads, and you will still see strength gains, without compromising your pelvic floor muscles.
Remember when you are exercising, nothing should hurt. Exercise should be fun, and make you feel great!