Pregnancy Stretches for the Upper Abdomen

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When you’re pregnant, your abdomen stretches considerably. The muscles expand and separate to accommodate your growing uterus. This can cause lower-back pain. Thankfully, gentle stretches can reduce this pain, improve flexibility and increase your abdominal strength, which is essential for having an easier delivery.

Pelvic Tilts

  • Pelvic tilts offer an excellent opportunity to stretch your lower back and encourage good posture. They will also stretch and strengthen your upper abdomen. To perform them, get on your hands and knees and take a deep breath in. Tighten your abdominal muscles and tilt your pelvis down. Hold for several seconds then relax.

Abdominal Hollowing

  • This exercise helps to tone and stretch the deep muscles within your abdomen without affecting the rectus abdominis, or exterior muscles. You can perform this exercise by getting on your hands and knees and allowing your belly to hang down. Take a deep breath in then pull your bellybutton in toward your back. You can imagine a string attached to your bellybutton that goes through your body and out your back that’s being tugged on. Hold this for a few seconds then relax.

Seated Transversus

  • Another helpful stretch is called the seated transversus. This helps to reduce the separation between the upper-abdominal muscles that can sometimes occur during and following pregnancy, according to “The Pilates Body.” To perform the exercise, sit with your legs crossed and your body weight shifted forward slightly. Inhale deeply. On an exhale, tuck your bellybutton in toward your spine. Hold for 30 seconds then relax.

Caution

  • It is normal for the rectus abdominis, or superficial abdominal muscles, to separate when you’re pregnant. This is called diastasis recti. However, sometimes these muscles don’t go back together following the pregnancy, leading to back pain, poor posture and other issues. To avoid worsening this condition, don’t perform traditional abdominal exercises, like sit-ups, crunches or The Hundred from Pilates, until you’ve received the go-ahead from your physician.

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