7 Pregnancy Ab Exercises That Are Safe For Every Trimester

Maintain a strong core during pregnancy with these 7 pregnancy ab exercises that are safe for every trimester. Each core exercise is designed to target the deep abdominal muscles (transverse abdominals) to help support a growing belly, reduce low back pain and shorten postpartum recovery time!

7 Pregnancy Ab Exercises That Are Safe For Every Trimester

I know this post is titled ‘7 Pregnancy Ab Exercises That Are Safe For Every Trimester,’ but really it should be, ‘7 Beginner Ab Exercises for Women.’ 

This ab workout is a great beginner workout for all women in every season of life. It’s specifically designed to target and strengthen the deep transverse abdominal muscles. These transverse abdominal muscles are required for daily activity — from picking up kids to standing over the sink washing dishes.

But I specifically made this a pregnancy ab workout since I’m frequently asked for exercises that are safe to do during pregnancy (and I was pregnant when I created this ab workout).

Additionally, if you like taking group fitness classes like me, this is a great post to reference on ‘how to modify ab exercises for pregnancy.’

bird dog exercise safe for pregnancy

Exercises That Are Safe To Do During Pregnancy

Which is why I’ve created these posts on exercises that are safe for pregnancy:

But since your abdominals and core are what change the most during pregnancy, I wanted to add to this library of pregnancy safe exercises with 7 Pregnancy Ab Exercises that are safe for every trimester.

Your core is so much more than the rectus abdominus, also known as the ‘six-pack ab muscles’. It includes the upper abs and lower abs, the obliques along the side of your midsection, your glutes, and all the stabilizing muscles along your spine and pelvis.

And ALL of these muscles shift and change during pregnancy to support you as your belly grows.

Maintaining transverse abdominal strength during pregnancy helps you properly carry your baby while avoiding symptoms like low back pain, commonly associated with pregnancy. And it tends to make postpartum recovery much smoother.

This pregnancy ab workout also makes a great post-baby ab workout as all 7 ab exercises are safe for diastasis recti recovery.

pregnancy safe ab exercises modified side plank

Benefits Of Ab Exercises During Pregnancy

Abs during pregnancy…It may seem odd to strengthen your core during pregnancy when your belly is expanding and your abs are separating.

But there are several benefits of prenatal exercises that include ab work — building a strong core supports your shifting pelvic as baby gets bigger, and can help alleviate pressure on your back to fend off low back pain that’s synonymous with advanced pregnancy. Core strength may also help you recover more quickly after giving birth (What To Expect).

Ab Exercises During Early Pregnancy

During early pregnancy, the first trimester, most women can continue doing the ab exercises they were doing pre-pregnancy.

You know it’s time to start modifying your core exercises for pregnancy when you experience ‘doming’ of the belly. To learn more about this, watch the video in this post where I show you what ‘doming of the belly’ looks like.

Core Exercises as Pregnancy Advances

During the second trimester and third trimester of pregnancy, some women need to avoid exercises that involve lying flat on their back. This is because your baby and uterus could potentially compress the vena cava, the vein that carries blood to your heart (What To Expect).

This can sound scary, but really your body will let you know when it no longer feels good to perform exercises on your back while pregnant.

I personally only had to avoid lying on my back in the very final weeks of my pregnancy (weeks 37 through 39).

That said, all seven of these pregnancy core exercises are performed off the back; making them safe for every trimester of pregnancy. 

Ab Exercises During Pregnancy Transverse Abdominal Breathing

Postpartum Ab Exercises

Transverse abdominal breathing, often referred to as TA breathing, is the top exercise I recommend for women post-baby or postpartum. 

As you recover, you can start doing some more targeted core work to rebuild your core and strengthen your pelvic floor. Like these beginner ab workouts I shared on Instagram:

I started doing these abdominal exercises around four weeks postpartum. That said, I recommend you consult your doctor or midwife prior to performing exercise after baby. 

As your core recovers and strengthens post-baby, you can progress to these postpartum ab workouts:

Speaking of postpartum recovery, I recently had my first postpartum doula experience with Better Beginnings and it was AMAZING! You can read more about my experience here, but if you’re a new mom in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area I highly recommend Better Beginnings for postpartum doula care, lactation support, and more (find all their postpartum support services here).

7 Best Pregnancy Core Exercises

Note: every pregnancy is different. If you have any concerns, or if you’re starting a fitness program for the first time, please consult your doctor or midwife. As always listen to your body. 

Instructions: Perform each ab exercise for 20-30 seconds. Take breaks or rest as needed, or move directly from one exercise to the next. As you advance you can strive to perform each exercise for 30-40 seconds.

1. Transverse Abdominal Breathing (TA Breathing)

Transverse Abdominal Breathing (TA Breathing)

TA breathing is hands down the number one core strengthening exercise I recommend to ALL women. TA breathing is difficult to explain in text or still images, so I recommend you watch the video linked below (approximately from 0:15 to 1:50) for a full demonstration of TA breathing.

Watch this video demonstrating TA breathing, where I show you:

  • How to find your transverse abdominal muscles so that you can properly engage them.
  • How to effectively perform TA breathing.
  • How long to perform TA breathing exercises.

2. Lunge Hold + Oblique Engagement

oblique ab exercises for pregnancy

Note, perform this exercise on both the right side and left side. 

3. Neutral Table Top to Cat

cat pose for pregnancy
4. Bird Dog Extension + Knee Tap

bird dog exercise pregnancy | pregnancy core

Note, perform this exercise on both the right side and left side. 

5. Table Top Rear Kick + Knee to Elbow

rear kick and knee to elbow core exercises during pregnancy

Note, perform this exercise on both the right side and left side. 

6. Modified Side Plank

modified side plank during pregnancy

Note, perform this exercise on both the right side and left side. 

7. Seated Side Sweeps

pregnancy ab exercises

Note, if you need additional support performing this exercise, I suggest placing a pilates sponge ball or kids squishy toy ball under your low back (where your bottom meets the mat). This is the pilates sponge ball I have, and it’s available on Amazon for under $10.

Pin this Pregnancy Ab Workout

pregnancy safe ab workout

Is it safe to do ab workouts during pregnancy?

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