Cosmo recently released an article with the headline "People Are Pissed That the 6-Pack Mom Is Doing Crunches While 6 Months Pregnant" after model, Sarah Stage, posted this video of herself doing at home workouts, including crunches and sit-ups. Being the leading pre and postnatal fitness program in the nation, we received a handful of comments and questions once our mamas stumbled across the article. Our Global Fitness Director, Farel Hruska, was right on top of answering your FAQs...you can also find an article here on "Is Exercise Safe During Pregnancy?"
Crunches While Pregnant?
Let's Dive Deeper
There are three main points up for debate within this article + topic:
- Working out while pregnant as it relates to the safety of baby
- Core work on her back after 1st trimester (the expert quoted uses old guidelines)
- Core work as it relates to diastasis recti
A Fit Pro Weighs In
1. Working out while pregnant as it relates to the safety of baby
ANSWER: As long as a woman has been working out prior to becoming pregnant, it is advised that she continue her routine (ACOG and ACSM). That being said, it is also safe for a new exerciser to start once she becomes pregnant. She just needs to be sure that she starts conservatively and progresses slowly. It is actually a perfect time to add fitness into her life as research shows the psychological space she is in lends itself to prolonged healthy habits beyond pregnancy (Dr. James Clapp).
"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that pregnant women get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. An aerobic activity is one in which you move large muscles of the body (like those in the legs and arms) in a rhythmic way. Moderate intensity means you are moving enough to raise your heart rate and start sweating. You still can talk normally, but you cannot sing. Examples of moderate-intensity aerobic activity include brisk walking and general gardening (raking, weeding, or digging). You can divide the 150 minutes into 30-minute workouts on 5 days of the week or into smaller 10-minute workouts throughout each day. If you are new to exercise, start out slowly and gradually increase your activity. Begin with as little as 5 minutes a day. Add 5 minutes each week until you can stay active for 30 minutes a day. If you were very active before pregnancy, you can keep doing the same workouts with your health care professional’s approval. However, if you start to lose weight, you may need to increase the number of calories that you eat."
2. Core work on her back after 1st trimester
ANSWER: In December 2015, ACOG revised their guidelines and took out that a woman shouldn't lay on her back after the 1st trimester. They replaced it with "avoid long periods of lying flat on their backs". She can perform the exercise shown. If we could have a chance to take her through her routine, we would adjust her form on some of the exercises (crunches, squats, lunges, etc) and make sure her two year old wasn't bouncing on her during the routine
3. Core work as it relates to diastasis recti
ANSWER: Her impressive 6 pack may be the envy of some and thus the source of criticism. Aesthetics aside, the main conversation point needs to be around core engagement and the importance of correctly contracting her inner and outer musculature to create a "drawing in" of the abdominals when strengthening her core...versus pushing out. Effectively contracting her 3 dimensional core is the key to safe and supportive abdominal work throughout pregnancy.
According to the ACOG
According to the most recent release from the ACOG (American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology), here are some of the health benefits of regular exercise during pregnancy:
- Reduces back pain
- Eases constipation
- May decrease your risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and cesarean delivery
- Promotes healthy weight gain during pregnancy
- Improves your overall general fitness and strengthens your heart and blood vessels
- Helps you to lose the baby weight after your baby is born
The ACOG also weighs in on another FAQ, "What exercises should I avoid during pregnancy?" stating that "while pregnant, expecting mamas should avoid activities that put you at increased risk of injury, such as the following":
- Contact sports and sports that put you at risk of getting hit in the abdomen, including ice hockey, boxing, soccer, and basketball
- Activities that may result in a fall, such as downhill snow skiing, water skiing, surfing, off-road cycling, gymnastics, and horseback riding
- “Hot yoga” or “hot Pilates,” which may cause you to become overheated
- Scuba diving
- Activities performed above 6,000 feet (if you do not already live at a high altitude)
If you want to learn more about prenatal fitness, ALWAYS talk to your doctor before trying any new class, workout, movement, or routine. We also love the information available from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecoloogy, aka the ACOG, on exercise during pregnancy.
Want to learn more about pregnancy + exercise recommendations from the ACOG?