Staying fit can make your pregnancy smooth and your labor easier. Situps and pushups strengthen your core, which can be particularly helpful when it comes time to deliver, but these exercises can pose certain risks when you're pregnant. As soon as you learn that you're expecting a baby, talk to your doctor about which exercises are safe for you.
Generally speaking, situps and pushups are fairly safe during the first trimester, and possibly at the beginning of the second trimester if your doctor gives you permission. Certain variables can make these exercises off-limits, though. If you've had complications during past pregnancies or have suffered any complications such as bleeding in your current pregnancy, avoiding strenuous exercises is wise. If you're carrying multiple babies, you may need to stop doing these exercises earlier in your pregnancy than a woman carrying a single baby would.
Once you enter the second trimester of your pregnancy, situps and pushups are not only challenging but potentially dangerous. Situps, or any other type of activity that requires lying on your back, can be dangerous because staying in this position decreases the oxygen flow to your baby. When you're doing pushups, the main danger is the chance of falling. If your hands slip or your arms give out and you fall onto your stomach, your baby can suffer trauma.
Regardless of whether you're three weeks or three months pregnant, following some simple precautions can lower your risks of harming yourself and your baby. When you're doing situps, limit yourself to 10 or 15 at a time, then get up and move around to get blood flowing throughout your body. You can do another set several minutes later if you wish. Do pushups on a carpeted surface so your hands won't be likely to slip. Doing wall pushups may also be easier than getting down on your hands and knees. Stand a few feet away from a wall with your hands pressed against it. Bend your elbows until your chin is next to the wall, then use your arms to push yourself back to a standing position.
If your doctor forbids situps and pushups, or if you just want to continue to stay fit all the way through your third trimester, there are other simple exercises you can do to keep your core strong. Do leg lifts by getting on your hands and knees and alternately lifting one leg out straight behind you. Exercising with a resistance band can work both your arms and upper back. Sit in a chair or on an exercise ball with the center of the resistance band under your feet. While holding onto the ends of the band, pull your elbows back so they're next to your sides or do bicep curls. Swimming and walking can also help you stay fit and strong throughout your pregnancy.REFERENCES & RESOURCES BabyCenter: Is It Safe to Do Situps or Abdominal Crunches During Pregnancy? Sutter Health: Basic Prenatal Exercises Health & Fitness Journal; Oh Baby! Exercise During Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period; James Pivarnik, Ph.D., et al.