When patients ask me about doing abdominal exercises during pregnancy my answer is twofold. YES and NO.
It is very important to have good abdominal muscles to support the body's core strength when pregnant. Abdominal muscles help you compensate for the inward curve of the lower back as your baby and uterus begin to grow. Many women totally forget these muscles that are used for good posture and stabilization during their pregnancy. These stabilization muscles help avoid back/pelvic/buttock pain during the pregnancy. There are gentle abdominal muscle exercises that can be done that won’t damage or separate the abdominis rectus muscles while the baby and uterus are getting quite large. Unfortunately there are other abdominal muscle exercises that can put too much strain on these muscles and can cause them to separate permanently. Full sit-ups and double leg lifts are some of the abdominal exercises that can put too much strain on the muscles in question and should be avoided during the pregnancy. Certified pregnancy exercise instructors can show you modifications of these exercises that will strengthen but not tear these essential muscles during your pregnancy. Some childbirth books like YOU HAVNG A BABY give some exercises that you can safely do if you have an uncomplicated pregnancy. Make sure to discuss any questions about your exercise with your midwife or ob/gyn.