Pregnancy is a beautiful journey, but it comes with many changes on your body which might be worrying.
You may be wondering; will I be able to get my flat stomach back? How much exercise do I need to do to keep my body toned?
If you’re early on in your pregnancy, you may also be battling with not being ready to change your wardrobe just yet.
If you’re still trying to fit into your old clothes or just want to stay toned, you may be wondering can you suck in your stomach while pregnant?
The short answer is yes, you can, but you probably shouldn’t.
Now, let’s get into all the details, and we’ll explain why. Keep reading to find out more.
Can You Suck In Your Stomach While Pregnant?
You can tuck in your stomach when pregnant. It won’t harm your baby.
This is because the baby and all the uterine fluids stay enclosed inside the uterus that’s made of strong muscles.
When you tuck your stomach in, you will mostly pull in your intestines, stomach, and a few other internal organs. This will change the shape of your tummy but won’t affect the baby.
The muscles of the uterus are tough enough to withstand the pressure. They won’t contract easily; you’d have to apply a lot of pressure to pull them in.
SEE ALSO: How To Hide A Pregnancy For Nine Months
So bottom line, sucking your stomach in doesn’t harm the baby. But you should know that you can only do it for a short time.
From as early as about eight weeks of pregnancy, it gets harder for you to suck in your stomach. As the uterus and the baby inside start to grow bigger, your stomach hardens.
The harder your stomach feels, the more difficult it becomes to suck it in. So as your pregnancy grows, you might not be able to suck your stomach in even if you wanted to.
Why You Shouldn’t Suck Your Stomach In When You Are Pregnant
As mentioned earlier, tucking in your stomach during pregnancy isn’t recommended. If you do it for extended periods, it could lead to complications.
The complications come about because when you suck your stomach in, you overextend the core muscles in the abdomen.
During pregnancy, the size of your tummy naturally grows bigger to accommodate the baby. This natural extension of your stomach stretches the muscles in your abdomen.
Now when you tuck your tummy in, you put more pressure on your muscles, stretching them even faster.
If the muscles keep pulling, they can separate down the middle with one part above the belly button and the other left below (picture how a zip opens down the middle to divide the cloth into two distinct pieces). This separation is called diastasis recti.
Why Is Diastasis Recti Bad During Pregnancy?
Diastasis recti causes the weakening of the connective tissues and core muscles. When the connective tissues become weaker, the baby won’t have much support.
Without support, your baby will drop in the wrong direction, which isn’t correctly aligned to the cervix.
In the end, it will complicate your labor and birth. What’s more, it could affect future pregnancies.
So bottom line, you shouldn’t push your stomach in when pregnant because there’s a risk it may affect fetal alignment and lead to labor complications.
Another side effect of overworking your core by sucking your stomach during pregnancy is pelvic floor pain.
What is pelvic floor pain? Well, pelvic floor pain simply refers to stiff pelvic joints or uneven movement in either of your pelvic floor muscles.
While it doesn’t harm your baby, it can be excruciatingly painful. The pain is enough to make it difficult for you to stand, walk or sit.
Sucking in your baby bump also puts pressure on one of the core muscles called the transversus abdominis.
The transversus abdominis is the deepest of the core muscles, which provides support for your whole body.
When you are pulling in your stomach, you will be holding the transversus abdominis in a single position.
Because it cannot contract or expand, it doesn’t interact well with the rest of the muscles, giving you back pain and disrupting the birth process.
How Can You Tone Your Stomach Muscles During Pregnancy?
If you really have to, you can suck in your bump for a short time, especially in the early trimester. It shouldn’t be a problem.
Just remember not to press in your baby belly while lying down, especially when lying on your stomach.
If you tuck your bump while lying down, you risk putting too much pressure on the uterus, which could harm your baby.
On top of that, if you suck your tummy in when sleeping on your back, your uterus will increase pressure on your main blood vessel called the venacava.
Pressure on the venacava may cut off blood supply to your baby and also your brain.
However, you should have no major worries if you squeeze your stomach in when you are standing upright. As mentioned before, you can’t pull your uterine muscles in by sucking.
So, since it’s not advisable to suck your stomach in, what else can you do to keep your stomach toned when you are pregnant?
You can do some mild aerobic exercises like swimming or walking. Exercise will help tone your muscles and strengthen your core just enough without over-extending it.
Remember to be gentle. If you overdo it, you risk harming yourself and the baby.
Plus, avoid exercises that need you to suck your tummy. Instead, think about doing safe workouts.
For instance, instead of tucking your tummy in during pregnancy in the first trimester, you can do sit-ups.
Sit-ups won’t stretch your core for extended lengths of time as pulling your muscles in would do.
However, you should note that you can do sit-ups strictly in the first trimester of pregnancy, after which you would do more harm than good.
If you’re an avid yogi, you can continue with your yoga exercises throughout pregnancy.
But you should only do so under the eye of an experienced professional. Only do exercises meant for pregnant women.
Most of these safe exercises don’t involve putting pressure on your stomach or twisting.
Another great exercise is a pelvic tilt designed for pregnant women. To do this, you need to stand with your back against the wall and open your feet.
Then you take a deep breath and tilt your pelvic area away from the wall, exhaling slowly.
Next, inhale deeply and return to your original position. Do this a couple of times a day to strengthen your pelvic area to prepare for birth. It will also help keep your muscles toned.
Apart from physical exercises, some breathing exercises can help you work your core the right way.
Search for tips on google or visit an experienced professional to help you with yoga breathing exercises for pregnant women.
Finally, remember to eat healthily. Maintaining a healthy balanced diet will help keep your whole body toned and in good shape after pregnancy.
It’s recommended that you should gain only between 25 and 35 pounds during pregnancy if you had a normal pre-pregnancy weight.
Most importantly, have fun with your pregnancy, and don’t fuss too much about toning your body; you’ll have plenty of time for that once the baby comes. For now, buckle up and enjoy the journey, mom.