Planks are a type of abs exercise that involves keeping your body straight off of the ground. They help strengthen your back as well as your core muscles.

While it’s generally safe to do planks when pregnant, planking can become more difficult as your cycle progresses, and some complications can arise.

When should you stop doing planks while pregnant? 

You can still plank in your first trimester if you live an active lifestyle. Planks should be stopped by the fourth trimester of your pregnancy cycle.

Your abs muscles will become less strong as your uterus grows. Diastasisrecti can be caused by planks being performed after the first three months. 

Continue reading to learn more about planking and the prepartum period.

What is diastasisrecti and how does it work?

Diastasisrecti occurs when the connective tissue (linea alba), between the right- and left abs muscles, is stretched too far and doesn’t come back together. This causes a gap in your belly. 

This condition is most commonly caused by an increased pressure on the abdominal walls during pregnancy. However, it can also be acquired (i.e., a person might be born with it).

Diastasisrecti is a condition that can be characterized by the following symptoms:

  • A bulge, or pooch, below or above the belly button
  • Coning in your belly
  • Anger in the abdomen
  • Low back pain
  • Poor posture

When to stop doing planks while pregnant

Avoid planking if you:

You’re in your second or third trimester

While planking can help strengthen your ab muscles, it can cause abdominal problems during your second and third trimesters. Planking should be avoided during this time. 

Planks may also cause disruptions in your breathing, making it difficult to breathe for your baby.

When you are in a plank pose, your abdomen bulges

If you feel a coning or doming while doing your plank section, it is likely that your cores are not strong enough to withstand the intra-abdominal stress. Stop the exercise. 

You’re entirely new to planking

It’s generally not advisable to learn planks while pregnant. If you haven’t yet mastered the form or breathing to use when planking, opt for non-ab exercises until after child delivery. 

It is disapproved by your doctor

Ask your doctor before you start or continue any exercise during pregnancy, especially if there are any history of miscarriage, premature birth or other complications. If they say you shouldn’t plank, then listen to them!

You’ve been previously diagnosed with diastasis recti

Planks can worsen diastasisrecti. If you’re not sure whether or not you have diastasis recti, consult with a health professional.

You should also avoid other Abs exercises while pregnant

The best ab exercises to do while pregnant

Pregnancy doesn’t entirely exempt you from exercising your core. The following are some recommended abs workouts you can do prenatal.

Frogs

  • Place your head up on a mat, with your chin in your neck and your shoulders flat on the ground.
  • To move your hips up towards the ceiling, place your soles together in an frog-like pose.
  • Next, gently press your lower body into the ground. Then, draw your belly button towards your midsection.
  • Complete five reps.

Bird Dogs

  • Keep your back straight. Bend your arms forward with your hips above your knees.
  • While keeping your back straight, extend your right arm to the left and engage the core muscles.
  • For a few seconds, hold the position and then return to the starting position.
  • Repeat on the opposite side. This is one repetition.
  • Do two sets with 4 reps.

Cat-Cow

  • Start on your fours with a neutral spine. 
  • Inhale, and lift your tailbone up and bring your chest forward to create a cow pose. Allow your belly to sink.
  • Next, exhale and round your spine outward. Next, bring your pelvis forward, and tuck your tailbone (cat position).
  • Repeat points 2 through 3 for 5-10 seconds. 

Pelvic tilts

  • Place your palms on the mat, face down. Flex your legs until your knees touch the ground.
  • Place your feet shoulder width apart and straighten your spine.
  • Inhale and draw your pelvis up towards your ribs. For 5 seconds, hold.
  • To return to your original form, exhale.
  • Five reps

Dead bugs

This exercise will activate your entire transversus and rectus abdominis (TVA).

  • Start on your back, with your feet flat on the ground and your knees bent.
  • Reach your arms towards ceiling.
  • Next, lower your right knee and extend it towards the ground. You can also raise your left arm towards your ears. 
  • You should hold the position for 3 seconds, activating your core muscles. Do not let your back touch anything.
  • Slowly return back to the original position and repeat the same process for the other arm and leg.

Pallof Press

This exercise will strengthen your core without you having to do much. Here’s how to do pallof press

  • Attach one end of the resistance band to a strong structure, such as a pole, or similar objects.
  • The free end of the resistance band should be held by both hands at your chest. This should create tension in your band.
  • Exhale while you push the band away. Straighten your arms forward and extend your arms. Engage your core muscles and resist the band pulling you towards it.
  • This position should be held for four seconds. Then slowly return the band to you chest.

Farmer carry

  • This exercise will require either a dumbbell, or a kettlebell.
  • Steer straight up.
  • One weight should be held in your right hand. Keep your arms at your sides. You should not let it touch your thighs.
  • Start walking forward with your feet. To prevent your torso bending laterally, engage your core and move forward with your feet.
  • Continue for 3 more minutes.
  • Continue on the left side.

Benefits of abs exercise during pregnancy

Abs training can be a great way to get back to your normal shape after a baby. 

Other benefits of core exercise during pregnancy include:

  • It strengthens your abdominal muscles
  • It lowers the risk of low back discomfort
  • It helps to reduce the risk for diastasisrecti
  • Improves posture
  • Higher postpartum recovery

Conclusion

Planks are a great exercise for strengthening the core muscles, but they are not recommended during pregnancy. You should stop doing planks after three months.

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