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Fit Moms Pregnancy and Postpartum Joining Cathe as moderator of FitMoms is Sheila Watkins. Sheila is a prenatal fitness specialist with over a decade of experience training 1000+ pregnant and new mothers, and educating hundreds of fitness instructors, health professionals, and childbirth educators on the rapidly changing field of prenatal fitness. We hope this forum will help you stay fit during your pregnancy

Ab Exercises During Pregnancy

This is a discussion on Ab Exercises During Pregnancy within the Fit Moms Pregnancy and Postpartum forums, part of the Cathe Friedrich Fitness Forums category;; Sheila & Cathe, First, thanks for creating this forum! I think it's a great idea, and will help a lot ...

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Old 12-31-1969, 07:00 PM
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Default Ab Exercises During Pregnancy

Sheila & Cathe,

First, thanks for creating this forum! I think it's a great idea, and will help a lot of women.

My question is about ab and back exercises. I've read many differing opinions on the ab front. You get barraged with info saying that you should never lie on your back after the 4th month. But I've also read that it's ok to be on your back for short (5-10 minutes) periods of time, which would be enough time to get in a traditional ab routine. What do you suggest? I am currently at 16.5 weeks, so I have a little while to go before I complete my 4th month, but it would be nice to hear what I should be doing in the future... Currently I'm just doing my normal ab routines and feel fine.

Also, you mentioned in another post that we should be doing upper, mid and lower back work. I can think of a lot of exercises to do for the upper and mid back (thanks to Cathe's MIS, BodyMax, and PS:BBA!), but I'm a little stumped on what to do for the lower back. Normally, I do those raises where you lie on your stomach and raise your arms and legs (so you look like Superman). However, I can definitely see a problem with this as I get bigger! Do you have other suggestions for lower back exercises? When should I stop doing my "Superman" exercise?

Thank you for your help!

m.
EDD 12/24 w/#1
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Old 12-31-1969, 07:00 PM
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Default Re: Ab exercises during pregnancy

Hi Michelle,

A Christmas baby. What fun! Please forgive me for taking so long to get to your post. In their 1994 Guidelines for Prenatal Exercise, ACOG (the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists) recommended that women should eliminate supine (on the back) exercise after the 1st trimester. This is because there is a possibility that when a pregnant woman lies on her back the weight of the uterus may press on the large blood vessel that brings a major amount of blood from the lower extremities back to the heart (inferior vena cava). If blood flow is impeded going back to the heart then there will be decreased cardiac output out of the heart thereby possibly decreasing blood flow back out to the body (and therefore the baby). In our classes we do not put women on their backs after the first trimester to do abdominal work. It is still important to work the abs while pregnant because if you don't have strong abdominals to support the spine, the weight of the baby will be taken on by the smaller and less efficient muscles of the back and there lies your "recipe" for pregnancy back pain. So what can you do? One prenatal abdominal modification is to perform pelvic tilts on your hands and knees (all fours). You are actually using the weight of the baby as your "weight plate" while doing the pelvic tilts. You must use your abdominals to perform the pelvic tilt (i.e. "pull your navel to your spine" or "hug your baby with your abdominals") for this exercise to be effective. It is a subtle movement but if it is done right it will work the abs. I know after all the "hard core" ab work on Cathe's videos that this might seem "wimpy" to you, but give this exercise a chance. As your baby gets heavier it will get harder and harder to "pull your navel to your spine" while on all fours. The baby is your resistance to work against. I hope this makes sense.

Now for your "Superman" exercise. You can also modify that exercise using the all fours position. You would start out on all fours and extend one arm straight out while at the same time extending your opposite leg behind you. So - it would be right arm and the left leg extended at the same time and vice versa. This too will get harder as your pregnancy progresses. You will have to "stabilize" with your abdominals to keep your balance. Hope this helps. Let me know. Good luck!
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Old 12-31-1969, 07:00 PM
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Default Thanks!

Sheila,

Thank you for your response. I guess I'll hang up my normal ab exercises for a while then!

I forgot about the modified "superman" exercise - I've done that before, so I'm definitely familiar with it. I'll be sure to add that back into my routine.

Ok, one last sort of related question. What type of chest exercises (in addition to push-ups) can we do after the 1st trimester? Since we can't lie flat on our backs, it sounds like normal bench presses and flys are out. Is an incline press ok? Or is being on your back at all completely a no-no, even if you aren't horizontal?

Thanks again for your help!

Michelle
EDD 12/24 w/#1
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Old 12-31-1969, 07:00 PM
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Default Chest exercises during pregancy

An incline bench is fine for chest presses and flyes. Being on an incline is not considered a supine position. Keep in touch
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Old 12-31-1969, 07:00 PM
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Default abs for the Big abs

While I am not an "expert" in the pregnancy/ exercise field, I have exercised during 4 preg. and a comfortable ab exercise in addition to the recommended one (which also follows the guidelines for not lying flat on your back) is to lie down and drop the knees to one side and lift up (as you would doing a normal crunch) and then switch the knees to the other side to complete the set. For chest you can do chest presses while standing. Push- ups tend to pull on the ab region as your stomach gets heavier so don't feel discouraged when you need to modify to the floor or even the wall. Again, not an expert but hope it helps you stay fit and safe during this exciting time!
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Old 12-31-1969, 07:00 PM
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Default Ab exercises

I am glad that this exercise worked for you but do not recommend it for the following reasons. Even if your knees are dropped to one side you are technically in a supine position due to the fact that the uterus would still have the potential to press on the blood vessel returning blood back to the heart from the lower extremities. This particular exercise mainly targets the obliques and not the rectus abdominus ("washboard abs") muscle that we need to keep strong to support the weight of the baby during pregnancy and to help during the pushing stage of labor. This exercise also involves both flexion and rotation of the spine, which should not be done simultaneously, especially during pregnancy.
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Old 12-31-1969, 07:00 PM
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Default continiously changing

It is certainly an information highway out there. This exercise was given to me by an exercise physiologist who is also a certified Ace instructor- amazing that someone else in the field finds it unsuitable. Don't know if it makes any difference but the knees are not dropped to the floor but angled slightly to the side. I would not have guessed being on an incline is not considered in the supine positon and thus acceptable. Goes to show you how confusing it can be with all that varying info out there and why a point of reference such as this is so important!
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Old 12-31-1969, 07:00 PM
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Default re: continiously changing

This is Sunny Wang. I am a master level personal trainer with 5 certifications. I have been working with Sheila's Healthy Mom's Fitness Educational program since 1993. my specialty is in resistance training. I have spent a lot of time studying advanced biomechanics, human joint structure and function, and anatomy.

I have found it to be true that a person's knowledge has nothing to do with his/her credential.

I have been in fitness industry since 1988 and have met many people who have wonderful looking credential but no real knowledge. A trainer I know in town has a master degree in exerceis physiology but in her curriculum, she was never required to take an amatomy class.

My former direct supervisor in a corporate fitness facility also has a master degree in exercise physiology, she couldn't tell why an exercise would be different when we use d-bells vs. rubber tubing applying force from a different angle. She had no clue what Round Ligments were and argued with me that ligment must conect bone to bone. Round ligments are what hold your uterus in place. They do not connect bone to bone.

Prenatal and postpartum population has very specific concerns that most trainers and instructors or any master degreed or doctors don't know unless they specifically study on this subject.

I was certified by ACE as a personal trainer in 1991 but I sure didn't know anything about prenatal exercise. I met Sheila in her workshop in 1993 and decided this is who I should trust on prenatal/postpartum subject. Her 2 hour workshop back in 1993 is now a full day 9 hour workshop. We are also learning and growing.

In most of the certification manual for personal trainer and group exercise instructor manuals, they have a few of pages of infomation covering pregnancy and exercise. Sheila's current workshop/certification manual has over one hundred pages of solid information.

The whole fitness industry has been growing and learning through more advanced science research. You are absolutely right that the world of knowledge is continiously changing.
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Old 12-31-1969, 07:00 PM
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Default isn't it GREAT!!?

I am so excited to be able to access info. Wish I hadn't gone through 5 pregnancies without a reference such as this. If ever I am brave (or silly)enough to go through this again I will be sure to bring my questions here. I can not believe how limited info is in this area! Am even having a hard time finding the suggested book. The library is searching for it for me. You would think preg women never exercised b-4! What an exciting field you are in--again thanks!
P.S. was not questioning your knowledge only reiterating how terrific I think it is to have this point of reference and essential
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Old 10-10-2012, 08:08 AM
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The safest and most productive activities are swimming, brisk walking, indoor stationary bicycling and low-impact aerobics (taught by a certified aerobics instructor). These activities carry little risk of injury, benefit your entire body, and can be continued until birth.
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