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Ab Exercises During the First Trimester

author image Melissa McNamara
Melissa McNamara is a certified personal trainer who holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and communication studies from the University of Iowa. She writes for various health and fitness publications while working toward a Bachelor of Science in nursing.
Ab Exercises During the First Trimester
It’s generally safe to do ab exercises during your first trimester. Photo Credit: Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images

Exercising the abdominals during the first trimester can cause anxiety for many expecting mothers, especially since the first trimester is such a critical period during pregnancy. Although exercise may not be recommended for high-risk pregnancies, it’s generally safe to continue your pre-pregnancy exercise routine during your first trimester. Always talk to your doctor before starting a new fitness regimen while pregnant.

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Abdominal Exercise Activities

There are several activities that exercise your abdominal region while also providing benefits to the rest of your body. Swimming is an excellent form of exercise that can be done during your entire pregnancy, and offers cardiovascular benefits while also strengthening your core, arms and legs. Brisk walking and light jogging are also activities that can exercise your abs during your first trimester of pregnancy.

Target Exercises

There are several abdominal exercises that require you to lie flat on your back, such as sit-ups, crunches and the bicycle. During your first trimester, it is generally safe to perform abdominal exercises that require you to lie on your back. However, discontinue these exercises during your second trimester because the growing size of your uterus can press against the blood vessel that returns blood from the lower body to your heart. According to Progressive Parent, you can perform crunches safely throughout your entire pregnancy by stacking a few pillows behind you and keeping your head elevated above your heart. The pillows keep you from lying flat on your back. You can also do side crunches during your entire pregnancy since you’re not lying on your back.

Duration and Frequency

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pregnant women need to do moderate-intensity activity of 150 minutes per week, and this time can be broken into increments of 10 minutes at a time. Be sure to stay active for at least 30 minutes per day, five times per week. Perform 25 repetitions of abdominal exercises.


Morning sickness and extreme fatigue may result in the inability to exercise during your first trimester, so resume exercising once these symptoms end. Abdominal exercises during your first trimester can strengthen your core, improve your mood and your fitness level, and make labor easier. Do not exercise on an empty stomach, and stay hydrated. Some warning signs that you should stop exercising and call your doctor are contractions that last 30 minutes or more once you stop exercising, vaginal bleeding, dizziness, and sudden or severe abdominal pain.

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