Core Strength during Pregnancy

When I first found out I was pregnant I was so excited. My husband and I had decided after we were married that we didn’t want to wait to have kids, and after experiencing a chemical pregnancy a month after we were married, it made this pregnancy even more exciting.
However, because of my previous loss, it made me incredibly leery to workout. I was used to working out hard, and had been doing CrossFit for two years prior to all of this, but wasn’t sure how much my body could handle and my baby was far more important to me than working out. So, I took a hiatus, planning on waiting just long enough to get past the first 8 weeks.
Well, week 6 hit and I was so sick, life was miserable! Forget working out, it was hard enough to function, and do basic house chores…
This lasted until 21 weeks, and the only time I worked out was for the one week I was on Zofran for nausea, then after that it was back to barely functioning. Super fun stuff…
If I said I enjoyed being sick while pregnant I’d be telling the biggest lie ever. However, I’m also grateful, because:

1: I had a healthy baby

and

2: It gave me a lot of time to research what was safe during pregnancy, and come up with a plan for what I wanted to do/didn’t want to do during pregnancy

I had never heard of pelvic floor health before, and read a lot about Diastasis Recti and how to avoid it as best as able, and I hope to be able to share some of that information with you over the next few weeks!


{disclaimer: always consult your midwife/OBGYN before starting any exercise program while pregnant. I am not a professional, I’m just sharing what I’ve learned and am doing during pregnancy}


To all my preggo mamas out there, I completely understand how hard adjusting your workouts can be, and I want you to remember to be gentle on yourself! Every woman handles pregnancy differently, and you absolutely cannot compare yourself to someone else who hits the gym 5 times a week, if you’re struggling to workout even once or twice.


With that said, if you have been cleared to exercise, DEFINITELY keep it up mama!


LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
You’ve probably heard this a million times, but in pregnancy it’s so true! You know your body best. You know what feels normal and what doesn’t. If something doesn’t feel right, causes pain, dizziness, or anything abnormal, STOP. your body is under a ton of stress growing a tiny human, so you will probably find a lot of things that just feel “off”

What is Diastasis Recti?
Short answer?

DR is where your abdominal muscles separate, causing a gap in between your “6 pack muscles”.
As your baby grows, it puts more strain on your abdominals, and certain exercises can make it worse which is why you should change your core exercises after the first trimester.

Read this article for a more in-depth look at Diastasis Recti

Since this is my first baby I played it extra safe and stopped a lot of movements before other people might have. Better to be conservative than regret it later, in my book.

MOVEMENTS I STOPPED:

-Traditional crunches of any kind
-Kipping pull ups
-Sit-ups of any kind
-Candlesticks, Leg levers, scissor kicks, etc (basically anything on my back with extended and elevated legs)

These are the main ones. My reason for stopping these? I wanted to avoid any potential “Coning”.
I kept hearing this word but didn’t understand what it really meant until recently, when I actually noticed it on myself. It gave me a moment of panic because my mind instantly went RED FLAG!!!!
But I feel like so far I have kept myself from major seperation, and a bit of coning here and there is pretty normal considering what your body is going through.

WHAT IS CONING?
Imagine yout pre-pregnancy body sitting on the edge of your bed. If you had no prior experience with DR, then as you leaned back your core would engage and tighten, and flatten (ever wondered why fitness models lean back when flexing their abs? that’s why…)
Now take your beautiful pregnant body and do the same thing, and chances are, instead of flattening, your stomach will “cone” and look like its coming to a point.
THAT is what we want to avoid in pregnancy.

Now, don’t panic! There are still plenty of exercies you can do while pregnant. Your core is incredibly important to keep strong now. Doing so will help with back pain stemming from weakened muscles, and also be good for delivery. Your body is going to go through so much on that day, so it’s a good idea to keep strengthening them.


CORE SAFE MOVEMENTS:
-Planks are great, and I did them earlier in the second trimester. Again, watch for coning! I stopped these completely in the third trimester, but that doesn’t mean you have to if everything is looking ok. just know you might need to do elevated with your hands/elbows resting on a higher surface
-Deadbugs
-Bird dogs
-Side planks (on knees)
-Standing oblique crunches
-Kettlebell swings (My personal FAVORITE!)

These are just a few of my favorites that I’ve been doing, and that have felt good.
I’ll be sharing some workouts incorporating these, but when in doubt, go for a walk since the weather is getting nicer, and do a simple Tabata picking one or two exercises.

If you don’t know what Tababta is, It’s 20 seconds of work with 10 seconds of rest, for 8 rounds and a total of 4 minutes.
EXAMPLE:
KB Swings for 20 seconds
Rest 10
Bird dogs for 20 seconds
Rest 10
REPEAT 4x

There is a lot of information about core safety and pregnancy, just make sure you do your research, and do what is safe for you, but don’t neglect your core! swap out traditional exercises for some of the ones above to keep that baby belly strong without sacrificing your safety.

What are some of your favorite swaps Mama? Comment below!

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