Safe and Effective Pregnancy Core Exercises


When it comes to core exercises during pregnancy there’s a lot of confusion out there. So I’m here to help clear that up and if you haven’t already be sure to read the other posts on the blog that are geared towards your “core” (as I like to say rather than “abs”) oh how there is so much more in the word “core”.  

Below you will find several safe, yet very effective pregnancy core exercises you can do throughout your entire pregnancy (and postpartum) that can help strengthen your deep “core” muscles – said it again, I know (and if you’ve been working out with my dvd’s or reading my book you know I talk A LOT about your “core” because it really is that important!).


And yes, these exercises are safe even if you have diastasis recti – just remember to always listen to your body and if an exercise doesn’t feel right for you (or you see any “coning” of your belly) skip it and move on…

Ok now it’s time to move your body!



1) In a side kneeling position, reach your top arm over your body and extend your top leg out and away from your body.

2) On the start of your exhale slowly round your spine drawing your top elbow and knee towards each other (they do not have to touch, the goal is to get her to round her back).

3) Inhale to lengthen back out. Do 10 to 20 reps then switch sides.


*Be sure your physician has given you approval to exercise before beginning an exercise program*


1) Start in a kneeling position with your arms back and your chest lifted. Exhale as you sit back towards your heels, rounding forward as you reach your arms out in front.

2) Squeeze your glutes as you come back up onto your knees, lifting your arms up, circling them back around to your starting position. (Do these steps as one continuous motion). Do 5 to 10 in one direction, then reverse. Place a small pillow or double up your mat under your knees if you need.



1) On all 4’s exhale as you do a gentle kegel while gently “hugging your baby” to round your spine.

2) Inhale to lengthen your spine. Do 5 slowly with focus on your breathing.



1) Standing tall lengthening through the top of your head, exhale as you draw your right elbow and left knee towards each other (but not to touching) using your deep core muscles to move your body.

2) Inhale to lengthen back to start. Do 5 to 10 reps then switch sides.



1) On all 4’s, exhale to reach one arm out in front of your body and the opposite leg reaching back.

2) Inhale to round your spine drawing your opposite elbow and knee towards each other (they don’t not have to touch, the goal is to round your spine). Do 10 slow reps then switch sides.



Keep moving mama! Every little bit you do does add up :-) 


To Plank or Not To Plank?


I get asked this question all the time, are planks safe during pregnancy? Can I do planks with diastasis recti? So to plank or not to plank, is a very big question especially if we are discussing diastasis recti.


First, I LOVE planks!

Second, you must know when your body is ready to do planks, during pregnancy, postpartum or anytime really…


Here are some easy guidelines to follow:

  1. Do you have diastasis recti? (if you aren’t sure read this) Having diastasis recti isn’t an automatic “no” (unless you’re pregnant and have diastasis), it’s a “maybe”.  It really depends on your answers to the next 3 questions and be sure to read this entire post too.
  2. Can you connect your deep core muscles? (not sure what they are check out this post) You must be able to have at least a light deep core connection.
  3. Do you see any “coning” of your belly? You must avoid this or you may be causing more damage to your abdominals and even low back.
  4. Can you feel your abdominals connect near your ribcage and your lower abdominal area? If all you feel is pain in your low back then you need to do other simpler exercises for now and give your body more time.


Those are some major guidelines that can easily tell you if you should be doing planks or you should be doing easier yet effective exercises such as:

More exercises to be posted so be sure you’re a part of the Knocked Up Fitness community and sign up here!




Here is my favorite plank exercise “Plank Slides”. I do love these and teach these to a lot of clients, even my clients with diastasis recti (you just gasped – I know!) but let me tell you why. For starters I would never recommend doing these plank slides in those first sessions postpartum (diastasis or not), you really do need to allow your body time to heal. However I love, love, love these for strengthening those deep core muscles once your body is ready.

That is the KEY to planks, your body must be ready… and I recommend starting with plank slides over holding a static plank. I find moving in the plank position to be a very effective deep core exercise and great for getting those abs back.

*Always be sure your physician has cleared you to exercise before beginning any exercise programs*


  1. Begin in a full plank position on forearms and toes. Press legs together to help engage your pelvic floor (do a kegel), transverse abdominals (think lower belly) and intercostals (think “ribs) while also pulling up on the quads (your thighs).
  2. Exhale while moving your body forward staying in a plank position.
  3. Inhale while moving your body back. (Focus on stretching the calves in the backward movement).
  4. Modify: Switch out any plank exercises for a modified plank on forearms and knees or stick with those easier exercises mentioned above until your body is ready.


Watch for any bulging of your abdominals while in a plank position, note the difference in extra lose skin hanging vs. a good flat fascial/muscle connection across your lower belly. The extra skin is inevitable and will decrease will time, just be sure that if you notice any of your abdominal area hanging towards that ground that it is in deed skin and not your abdominals bulging towards the ground.


Be sure to follow those guidelines above to determine if planks are right for you right now. And if your body isn’t ready today it’s not a forever “no” it’s just a “not ready yet” but “someday”. So hang in there and keep strengthening those deep core muscles with more appropriate pregnancy and beyond baby exercises, workouts and programs.


One lasting thing: Please share this article with your girlfriends. I’ve talked with so many mom’s after pregnancy who had been doing exercises they later learned they should have skipped. While some women can safely do planks their entire pregnancy some should skip those and do easier core exercises as listed above. Exercise during pregnancy has so many wonderful benefits but being educated on what exercises are best, specifically core exercises can make a big impact on women during their years of having babies and beyond.


Resistance Band Exercises {Workout Video}

When you’re tight on time, equipment or traveling try these resistance band exercises, they are great to strengthen your entire body. Plus the exercises in this resistance band workout are great during pregnancy too.

Always remember to stand tall, lightly turning on your deep core muscles and move – move – move!



I get asked all the time if 10 minutes of working out is really worth doing – and YES is always my answer! 10 minutes is doing more then you may think, it’s turning on your muscles, getting your moving, revving up your metabolism, and helping you keep or increase your strength. So keep on moving mama even if it’s only 10 minutes!


3 Best Exercises for Early Pregnancy Health


According to The University of North Carolina’s study on pregnant women, fewer than 25% of moms-to-be are meeting healthy exercise recommendations– this means less than 1 in 4 women are exercising during every stage of pregnancy!


Prenatal exercise boasts tons of benefits, and not just for your muscles: regular exercise can help boost your energy, build strength and endurance for pregnancy & after baby, and now we know it can improve your health AND your baby’s health! Active moms who maintain a healthy body weight through good nutrition and exercise typically have:

  • fewer pregnancy complications
  • faster recovery
  • deliver healthy babies in the ideal weight range, with excellent brain function

For all these benefits and more, participating in an exercise program even before you start trying to conceive (since your eggs begin to mature about 3 months before conception) and in early pregnancy, can help promote a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby! To give you a head start, we’ve assembled the 3 best exercises for early pregnancy health.



1) Forward Rolls: These allow you to stretch your tight abdominals (belly and sides), while strengthening your deep core and your back muscles, both of which take on extra strain during pregnancy! To Perform Forward Rolls:

  1. Start on your knees with the ball positioned close to you. Exhale, tucking your chin towards your chest, and slowly roll the ball out in front of you.
  2. Inhale and hold, breathing into your belly, allowing a stretch.
  3. Exhale as you press your arms into the ball, engaging your core, then tucking your chin and hips to articulate your spine back to starting position.
  4. Repeat for 3 to 5 times





2) Squats:  An excellent overall lower body strengthening exercise, and great for targeting the pelvic floor & deep core! A strong lower body will help you carry your baby safely and reduce injury during pregnancy and postpartum.

Remember: “A proper squat burns more calories because it engages more muscles than almost any other exercise, especially when you add arm movements too!”

To Perform A Squat:

  1. Stand with your legs wider than shoulder-width and slightly turned out for wide squats, or stand with legs shoulder-width apart for narrow squats.
  2. Inhale as you lower into a comfortable deep squat, keeping your weight in your hips and heels.
  3. Exhale to stand up.
  4. Repeat for 10 to 20 reps




3) Walking is a safe option to keep up with cardio, especially when you’re feeling too tired for a high-intensity workout.  It’s also a great way to get some fresh air! There are many safe variations of cardiovascular exercise– whether you’re pre-pregnancy, currently pregnant, or postpartum.  Remember to listen to your body, and perform the Talk Test to ensure you aren’t over-exerting yourself.

“During pregnancy your blood volume increases around 50%! Due to this change, it’s easy to become lightheaded during position changes, so be cautious about moving to rapidly.”


If you are new to exercise, be sure to talk with your doctor before beginning any exercise program, and remember to start slow, gradually increasing duration and intensity based on your health and how you feel. There is no better time to add these safe exercises to your day than now– whether you’re pregnant, trying to conceive, or have baby(ies) at home! These exercises will help keep you fit, healthy, and happy at any stage.
Other Related Knocked-Up Fitness Posts:



The Medicine Cabinet: 9 Natural Remedies for Pregnancy Symptoms

Are you one of the many moms reaching for effective relief from pregnancy symptoms, but wanting more holistic alternatives to chemicals and artificial products? There are lots of natural ways to reduce all kinds of discomforts of which many can be especially problematic during pregnancy. As parents, we want to protect our children from harsh chemicals for life, so we’re sharing 9 products we use to replace chemicals in our medicine cabinets.


1. Ginger & Peppermint- Ginger is great raw– straight from the root, and can also be found in supplement form. Add a few slices of fresh grated ginger to your water bottle, food, or pregnancy-safe tea to help eliminate nausea, gas, indigestion, and bloating. Peppermint extract smells fantastic and is really effective at reducing symptoms of nausea. Adding fresh mint leaves to water and food, as well as using diluted essential oils for aromatherapy, can be beneficial for nausea, exhaustion, and indigestion.

2. Tea Tree Oil- With so many uses, tea tree oil is a staple for many natural product seekers.  Tea tree oil has anti-fungal properties, and can be used diluted with body washes or oils to help combat blemishes and oily skin or hair.  Add a few drops to hot water in a sink or steamer and you can help clean congested sinuses, since many commercial sinus and congestion medications are not recommended for use during pregnancy, this natural oil steam can provide a lot of relief if you get the sniffles! 

3. Iron- Iron deficiency is very common among pregnant women, and can be effectively treated by including iron-rich snacks and meals (one of my personal favorites is pumpkin seeds!) There are also many iron supplements available, that can be safe during pregnancy when discussed with a health professional. Low-iron can cause extreme poor body temperature regulation, fatigue, exhaustion, faintness and weakness– so be sure to discuss these symptoms with your doctor and adjust your diet if necessary! 

4. Aloe Vera Juice- Just 2 tablespoons before bed can effectively treat constipation, which is extremely common during pregnancy. Aloe Vera juice is also an excellent source of hydration, improving dry skin and reducing blemishes.

5. Probiotics- Available from many sources; including supplements, beverages, and foods such as yogurt– probiotics help maintain good bacterial balance in the stomach, which can be especially disturbed by hormonal changes in pregnancy and postpartum. Probiotics can also help with constipation, loose stool, and indigestion, but also help maintain total complete digestive health.

6. Magnesium- Experiencing leg cramps? This truly versatile mineral regulates body mechanical functions, and can be used to alleviate many pregnancy related symptoms! By drawing water into the bowels, magnesium helps alleviate constipation; it also encourages better sleep, decreased fatigue, increased alertness and brain function, better bone health, improved insulin sensitivity, leg cramps, and restlessness. So many of these symptoms are associated with pregnancy, so magnesium really is a great choice for many pregnant mamas!

7. Oils- Jojoba, Olive, Coconut, Avocado…They are all fantastic alternatives to chemical-laden products that can disrupt body functions and hormones. Since pregnancy can increase your sensitivity to chemicals (and because many commercial shampoos, washes, and lotions are full of artificial chemicals) natural oils are a great alternative for healthier skin and reducing dangerous chemical exposure to both you and your baby. Aside from cosmetic uses, natural oils can also be used in place of commercial massage oils– massaging can help promote circulation, lymphatic drainage, and relaxation– some excellent benefits for mamas! 

8. Witch Hazel- A really great product to help alleviate dry skin, heal blemishes, and treat hemorrhoids that might appear during pregnancy and after delivery.

9, Dandelion Leaf Tea– Completely safe during pregnancy, dandelion leaf tea provides gentle diuretic action with the addition of potassium, to support kidney function and provide tons of nutrients for pregnancy. This tea can also be used to reduce the symptoms of morning sickness, and help alleviate fluid retention– a very common pregnancy concern.

Along with all of these fantastic choices, and a regular and safe exercise program, pregnant mama’s HAVE to understand the importance of water. Water without sugar and other artificial additives will be every pregnant woman’s #1 defense against many of the typical pregnancy ailments. Adequate water intake can help reduce nausea, fatigue, cramps, body pain, dry skin, indigestion, gas, headaches, constipation, and so many other symptoms that pregnant moms deal with.

When making changes to your approach to health, be sure to consult your physician about the products your using and the health concerns you want to address! 

*    *    *    *    *    *    *


Other Posts by Knocked-Up Fitness:

5 Tips for Fighting Pregnancy Fatigue

Healthy Lifestyle for the Busy Mom: Let’s Talk About Sugar! {Video}

9 Surprising Tips: Pregnancy Digestive Health

Healthy Product Talk with Mommy Greenest

Getting Pregnant: 7 Pre-Pregnancy Health Tips



Going Into Overtime


Why Overdue Is Just An Estimation.. and 7 Ways You Can (Actually) Enjoy It!

If you’re waving at your due date as you drive on– still pregnant– it’s easy to spend hours watching the clock pass, hoping for a ‘Hollywood Moment’ of rushing fluid, crazy contractions, and a rush to the hospital. It’s normal (and so exciting!) to get anxious waiting for baby to arrive, but what many moms don’t know is only about 5% of baby’s are born on their due date– and saying you’re ‘overdue’ is only an estimation.
Since conception date depends on your individual ovulation time–along with other variables– exactly 40 weeks can be very difficult to determine, with many health professionals monitoring fluid, but not suggesting intervention until 2 weeks post-due date (provided there are no underlying complications).
All babies (in the womb and in the outside world) grow at different rates, so if you’re approaching or passing your due date here are 8 Ways You Can (& Should) Enjoy Your Final Pregnant Days!
-1- Treat Yourself! If we told you that today was the last day you have to sleep extra, get to the spa, have a long (Read: Uninterrupted) bubble bath, or spend some quality time at the gym– why wouldn’t you?! Time to spend spoiling yourself might be a little harder to come by in the months following delivery, so whatever it is you love to do in your alone time, DO IT!

-2- Quality Time. Speaking of that quality alone time, there are probably others in your life that will want some too! Your spouse, your other child(ren), your pets, and your friends might take a back seat in the early postpartum days– especially when you’re establishing a nursing relationship and taking time to heal after delivery. Take advantage of your pregnant days to bond with everyone in your life, tell them how much you appreciate them, and enjoy their company one-on-one… Trust us, everyone wins with this one!

-3- Out & About. Whether it’s the holidays approaching or beautiful summer weather, there are plenty of places it’s difficult to go when you have a newborn. Holiday shopping can give you some enjoyable browsing time, and will be a lot easier in a healthy pregnancy than it is when your new baby is nursing– and the same goes for hitting the beach or the pool. Remember to take lots of pictures to remember you final ‘outings’ with you plus your baby bump!

-5- Belly. Bump. & Beauty. When every day could be your last day pregnant, its easy to get caught up in the waiting and forget to track your progress. Pass the time by measuring your waistline, doing a belly cast, scheduling a prenatal photo shoot, and even jotting down your weight. Your growing size might be hard to wear today, but it’s easy to forget these details once you have a baby to keep up with. You’ll definitely look back at these mementos of pregnancy fondly one day!

-6- Journal It. By writing a daily journal or even a single love letter, you can tell your baby how excited or nervous you are for their arrival, and all the things you’re doing to prepare for their arrival. This is a project you can use to enjoy pregnancy now, read to baby as a newborn, and gift to baby as they get older. A beautiful, handwritten, first-account of how much you already love them!

-7- Kicks, Movements, Hiccups & More! Whether you love to feel the movement, or you’ll be glad when baby is kicking the air & not you– it’s amazing to feel all that livelihood on the inside. It’s normal for baby to move around a little less in late pregnancy due to reduced space, but monitoring movement is a great way to stay connected to enjoying your pregnancy, monitoring baby’s well-being, and reveling in all the amazing things your body has done in the last nine months or more.

Of course, there are tons of ways to enjoy your final days in the pregnancy club, and we hope that adding in a great prenatal workout– to energize you and prepare you for labor– is one of them! Remember that your due date is just an estimation, and not to get discouraged when it comes and goes.. Trust your body, your healthcare providers, and your baby, and you can have an amazing time in overtime!


*   *   *   *   *   *

Other Related Knocked-Up Fitness Posts:

Gearing Up For Baby: My 10 Must-Haves

5 Tips to Healthy Pregnancy Weight Gain

 Delivery Methods: 1 Crazy (But Awesome) Tip To Improve Baby’s Health 


5 Tips to Healthy Pregnancy Weight Gain


Weight gain is a reality of pregnancy… Or is it? Many pregnant women struggle to meet pregnancy weight gain milestones–often leading to anxiety, and unhealthy eating habits. We asked Kristi Angevine, OBGyn, to weigh in on some healthy weight gain tips, and we’re sharing 5 Tips to Ensure Healthy Pregnancy Weight Gain.


1) Check-Ups

Your suggested weight gain will be based on your health and BMI at conception as determined by your doctor, and this calculation is often a simple estimation. Your body shape, and the number on the scale throughout you pregnancy will be largely based on your body type, diet, and activity level both before and during pregnancy– so talk to your doctor about the most accurate weight-gain timeline specifically for you.

2) Tummy Talk

If you’re experiencing extreme nausea, excessive vomiting, or ongoing sickness into the second trimester, you’re one of many mamas who experience morning sickness (or all-day sickness for many of us!) If this nausea is interfering with your appetite, weight, or energy, you could be suffering from Hypermesis Gravidium– a pregnancy related illness caused by hormonal fluctuation. There are several ways to ease HG, including diet change, keeping hydrated, grazing so you are never ‘over full’ or hungry, light exercise or meditation, and using natural nausea reducers, such as ginger. In severe cases, medication can be prescribed by a physician if necessary.

Nausea, of any severity, can cause reduced weight gain– and even weight loss– in the first trimester, but rest assured as long as you are eating healthy, taking vitamins, and staying hydrated, baby will get enough nutrients to develop normally!

3) Understanding ‘Diet’

When we talk about diet, we associate it with deprivation, ‘rabbit food’, and trying to lose weight, which causes a lot of confusion– especially for pregnant women, since they are being weighed every month (or more often!). Traditionally, ‘diet’ simply refers to what is being consumed by an individual, and everyone should use this more organic definition. When moms understand that their diet can have a strong impact on their pregnancy, and better understand how food fuels the body, they can have a healthier pregnancy.

With that being said, Dr. Angevine has collaborated with us to develop these additional guidelines for pregnant women struggling to gain the recommended amount of weight.

4) Fats & Carbs

A ‘diet’ that demands fats and carbs? Yes Please! But to be more specific, we’re talking healthy fats and adding additional carbohydrates that are also more closely naturally derived from plants.

Some Excellent Food to Try:

  • Real Organic Nut Butters
  • Walnuts, Pumpkin/Sunflower Seeds, Almonds, Pistachios
  • Steel Cut Oats
  • Flax Seed
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Olive (no heat) or Coconut (low heat) Oil
  • Real Butter (forget the processed stuff, opt for organic, natural types)

Additional carbs in your diet as a pregnant or nursing mama are essential to maintaining energy and health. While we typically think of limiting these items in our diet, fats and carbohydrates provide heart healthy properties and essential nutrients that will help you stay strong, and help fuel you and your baby, both during pregnancy, and while breastfeeding.

Lots of moms are concerned about eating too much, but the bigger concern is eating too much of the wrong things! So go ahead, finish off that delicious avocado or quinoa salad… Just skip on that second serving of ice cream!


5) Flex a Little

Working out to help gain weight– it has a TON of benefits. You’ll feel more energized, you’ll be in great shape during pregnancy and have more endurance (this will help during labor!), many pregnant moms who exercise find their body bounces back better after delivery, and surprisingly, weighted exercises will help you gain healthy weight– Muscle! It is safe to perform almost all weight lifting and weight bearing exercises you did before pregnancy, as long as you’re using proper body mechanics & listening to your body. If you weren’t previously doing weight-training, talk to your doctor about your personal limitations, and seek out a specialized prenatal exercise program like Knocked-Up Fitness Prenatal DVDs. Remember, exercising to build muscle and gain energy can help your pregnancy progress healthfully, but never exercise yourself to exhaustion!

Finally, since we’re talking about weight– remember that pregnancy is a time to gain weight healthfully, it’s all for your beautiful baby (or babies!!). If you’re concerned you are gaining too little, or too much, be sure to talk to your doctor to review what is a healthy weight range for your pregnancy!

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

Check Out These Tips From Knocked-Up Fitness:


Delivery Methods: 1 Crazy (But Awesome) Tip To Improve Baby’s Health


For many moms, planning for your baby’s arrival can even start before you find out you’re pregnant. Not surprisingly, delivery brings great excitement, along with questions and concerns for both mom and baby’s health and safety. The CDC estimates about 3 of 4 women have a vaginal delivery with minimal complications– but in the U.S. 33% of moms are delivering via cesarean.

Cesarean births have increased by nearly 60% since 1996. For moms with complications like placenta previa or fetal distress, a cesarean can save the life of mom and baby– which is amazing! But the CDC estimates as many as 30% of cesarean births are unnecessary or elective– with many doctors and women alike siting the cesarean delivery felt ‘safer’ or ‘easier’. But this is not the case.

A typical, vaginal delivery does come with some risks too, like tearing or minor lacerations, and of course pain–not to mention it can happen anywhere, anytime! It isn’t hard to see why an elective cesarean might seem like a good option– but many complications are increased with cesareans in comparison to natural deliveries, these include:

  • maternal organ damage
  • excessive blood loss
  • blood clots
  • infection
  • long-term pain
  • extended recovery time
  • a doubled mortality rate for baby versus vaginal deliveries that proceed naturally


PLUS.. Due to the nature of a cesarean, it also takes longer for women to return to an active routine, making postnatal health and fitness more difficult! 


What The Birth Canal Is Built For & What Moms (& Docs) Are Doing

Scientists are now studying the stage of birth, as baby is progressing through the birth canal. Newer studies are proving the prescence of good bacteria– bacteria that colonizes baby’s tummy and strengthens their system for the outside world in a natural delivery. The Journal of Pediatrics published a doctorate paper researching the high concentration of bacteria in the vaginal canal, and found that it may help reduce complications for baby such as:

  • colic
  • milk intolerances
  • athsma
  • immune complications
  • food allergies
  • celiac disease
  • obesity
  • diabetes

These studies have so astoundingly proven the benefits to baby that some doctors and moms are practicing a post cesarean colonization– yes– innoculating babies with bacteria from the vaginal canal, or by rubbing vaginal fluid on the breasts while in the early stages of nursing, to introduce these necessary bacteria to baby. So if you do require a cesarean, there are still ways to help your baby reap the benefits of what your body naturally provides.

While these methods might surprise you, the last decade has shown a three-fold in the prevalence of many of the related health issues in North America, and we want to make sure that every mom has access to information about postnatal and neonatal health.

We hope that you can choose the safest delivery method for you, and encourage you to talk to your doctor about any of your concerns regarding delivery and recovery.



*   *   *   *   *

If You Liked This, Check Out These Other Knocked-Up Fitness Posts:




National Institute of Health

Pediatric Health