Yummy Tummy: Core Exercises for the Pregnant Mummy
It is vitally important that pregnant women have strong abdominal muscles. The abdominal muscles help support the weight of the pregnancy, protect the lower back from strain and discomfort, and can help you bounce back faster post-pregnancy. However, many women don’t exercise these muscles as they should during the pregnancy, for fear of somehow hurting the baby. Luckily, You can continue to tone the stomach muscles throughout your pregnancy with some modifications.
“Yummy Tummy” will strengthen your entire core (abs, back, waist and pelvis) so it can support you like an internal corset, giving your body strength and resilience as your belly grows. These core exercises are for pregnant women in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd trimester, but they are also great exercises post-pregnancy. Perform each exercise for 10-15 repetition, 3 times a week, with consent from your doctor.
1. Stability Ball Rotation
Start: Feet are wider than hip distance and parallel. Press hands into either side of stability ball with long arms. Lift ball shoulder height and twist to right side.
2. Rotation Lift with Stability Ball
Start: Continue to use chest and arm muscles to hug ball, with long arms. Reach to right and lift ball above head, twisting through torso and hips. Left heel is lifted.
Movement: Reach ball to lower left side, while twisting torso and hips. Right heel lifts. Make sure knees are aligned with hip points and the direction you are twisting.
Repeat: Repeat this exercise, lifting to left side and lowering to right side.
3. Pelvic Tilts
Start: Seated on the apex of stability ball with feet hip distance and parallel. Hug baby with hands.
Movement: Tuck the tailbone and start to roll hips forward and down the ball, while pulling the pubic bone up toward belly button and hugging stomach muscles around baby. Create a gentle flexion in lower spine. Untuck tailbone and roll back to the seated position.
4. Cat/Cow Yoga Stretch with Stability Ball
Start: Start on the shins, knees hip distance. Hips are over knees and hands are lightly placed on ball. There should be about a foot between the ball and your thighs to begin.
Movement A: Inhale, as you drop the belly and allow the arms to roll along the ball, as it rolls away from you. Take your gaze up and over the ball. Let the movement in the spine start from the tailbone, making sure the hips stay over the knees. Don’t forget to hug baby with your stomach muscles. There is a lot of core work here to contain balance on stability ball.
Movement B: Begin to press down into arms and shins, to round through spine and lift belly. Drop the head, taking gaze to navel. Roll up to kneeling. Try to keep the hips over knees, as apposed to letting them fall back to heels. Imagine pulling your thighs to your arms and arms back toward your thighs. This will engage the pelvic floor and benefit you greatly during delivery.
5. Kneeling Saw with Stability Ball
Start: Begin on shins, with knees hip distance. Cross the right arm underneath left arm, both have a gently pressure down into the ball.
Movement A: Inhale, as you drop the belly and allow the right arm to roll along the ball, as it rolls away from you. The left arm still presses down gently for stability. Twist your chest to the sky as you take your gaze upward. Let the movement in the spine start from the tailbone, making sure the hips stay over the knees. Don’t forget to hug baby with your stomach muscles.
Movement B: Begin to press down into arms, especially the lower arm, to round through spine and lift belly. Drop the head, taking gaze to navel. Roll up to kneeling, facing foward.
Repeat to other side with opposite arm on bottom.
6. Pilates 1/2 Roll Back with Stability Ball
Tip: After 1st trimester, eliminate unsupported flexion in abdominals. You can modify flexion and maintain strength in lower core with seated flexion and minimal movment. Inner thigh engagement will help you stabilize the movement and strengthen the pelvic muscles. Reaching the arms back will stretch the added tightness in chest that comes with frontal weight gain.
Start: Seated with shoulders over hips, feet planted on ground and knees bent, hug the ball with your inner thighs. Bend elbows and draw arms behind and gently together behind the back to open and stretch the chest.
Movement: Press into the ball with inner thighs, as you tuck the tail bone and begin to flex the spine. Roll back until you connect the tailbone or sacrum with ground (roll to the place you find stable and secure). Arms will press forward and lift slightly to counteract backward movement.
7. Bridge Lift with Stability Ball
*As the pregnancy progresses the stability ball may add too much instability. You can perform Bridge lifts with feet on the ground and knees bent as an alternative exercise. Also, make sure you have doctor’s approval to lie on your back after your 1st trimester.
Start: Lie on your back, legs together and long, and arms by your side. Feet and ankles rest on the top of stability ball.
Movement: Press feet into the ball using your hamstrings and glutes to lift the hips into a bridge. Try to keep legs long, while gently pressing into arms to open chest. Hold at the top for a moment and then return hips to floor.
8. Pilates Side Bend
Start: Sit onto your right hip with right hand on floor under your shoulder. The opposite arm can be resting on hip or lightly touching the floor infront of body for added support. Legs are long, with bottom leg slightly in front and feet are flexed.
Movement: Press into right arm and legs to lift hips. Imagine creating an arch. The top hand can stay on your side, lift to sky or reach over the head for a greater stretch through side body. Return hips to ground with control.
*Bend the bottom leg and allow it to remain on the ground for a modification.
9. All 4’s Extension
Start: Come to all 4’s with hands under shoulders and knees under hips. Hug your abdominal muscles around baby. (not pictured)
Movement A: Extend the left arm forward, palm faces inward. Extend opposite leg back with foot on ground, keep hip points square to floor.
Movement B: Contract glute to lift leg hip height. Lower both the arm and leg. Repeat exercise lifting simultaneously. If your balance is having and off day or if you feel pressure in your low back, lift the arm and leg separately.
10. Standing Roll Down to Plank
Start: Stand with feet together and reach arms overhead.
Movement A: Begin to dive forward, dropping head and rounding through spine until your hands connect with the ground. You can bend your knees if you have tight hamstrings.
Movement B: Walk the hands out to plank position.
Movement C: Set up full plank with hands under shoulders and legs long. Modify with bent knees. Hold for 10 seconds. Walk hands back to feet and round up to standing.
Photos by: Nicholas Borsodi
Special thanks to Gabrielle D’Addario for being our beautiful pregnant model in her 2nd trimester.