Strengthening Your Core During Pregnancy For More Effective Pushing

Exercising during pregnancy has many benefits.  It increases your energy, mood and helps improve endurance.  Moms-to-be should know there are specific exercises they can do to help push more effectively during labor. A local expert gives our readers tips on how to strengthen their core muscles during pregnancy to help the delivery process along.

Your Abdominals
First it’s important to understand how a person’s abdominal area is structured. There are 3 layers of the abdominal muscles.  The outermost layer is the rectus abdominis.  It is comprised of two halves held together with connective tissue.  This muscle is responsible for flexing or curling the trunk.  The middle layer is the oblique muscles. They run diagonally, and are responsible for rotation of the trunk.  The innermost layer is the transverse abdominis muscle.  This muscle runs around your trunk like a corset.  It is responsible for supporting the abdominal wall, and when contracted causes a compressive action.  

Your Pregnant Belly
As your uterus expands, it stretches all three layers of the abdominals.  This is normal and not harmful. It is important to strengthen your abdominals safely during pregnancy to help you perform more effective pushing during labor.  Strong abdominals also help support your back and internal organs.

Sit comfortably with your back supported.  Take a breath into your nose, expanding your belly.  As you exhale, make the “sshhhhhh” sound until you run out of air.  This will ensure you are contracting your transverse abdominis, as if you are bringing your belly button to your spine.  Do this 10 times.

This is a great exercise to do to help relaxation as well.  Put on your favorite music and close your eyes as you do these exercises.  You can do them periodically during the day.

DO NOT DO SIT UPS!  This can cause a separation of the outermost layer of muscles.  This is called a diastasis.  A diastasis can lead to low back pain and decreased support of your abdominal organs.

Labor and Delivery
Practice makes perfect.  Do the exercises 3 times daily.  If it is your first pregnancy, you won’t know what to expect, but you can be prepared.  If you do these exercises throughout your pregnancy, you will have strong abdominals to help you push your baby out.  When a contraction comes on, take air into your nose, filling your belly with air.  Exhale making the “shhhh” sound until you run out of air, or until your belly button goes back to your spine.  By using your breath and your abdominal strength, you will push your baby out more effectively than holding your breath and bearing down.

If you are interested in learning more about progressing these exercises or participating in an exercise class that incorporates stretching, strengthening and relaxation, find a facility that provides prenatal services and classes such as Lotus Physical Therapy in Huntington which offers trainingfor2 exercise programs.

For questions about these exercises or any other orthopedic issues during pregnancy, contact Lotus Physical Therapy at or 631-629-5507.

Read other posts from Long Island Mamas on pregnancy and prenatal services:
Preparing for a Second Child – Local Resources

Morning Sickness Remedies – Beyond Saltines and Ginger Ale

Chiropractic Care and Pregnancy

Tips for Creating a Green Nursery with Local Resources

Childbirth Education Classes on Long Island

Baby Shower Venues on Long Island

Top Tips for Expectant Parents

Click here for more posts in the pregnancy and prenatal categories


By Rachelle Bojer
Guest Contributor and Owner of Lotus Physical Therapy, PC

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