Abs During Pregnancy – Yay or Nay? We Ask Doctors and Experts
In this picture from 30 August, Sarah Stage is 8 months pregnant.
In this picture from 30 August, Sarah Stage is 8 months pregnant.(Photo Courtesy: sarahstage/Instagram)

Abs During Pregnancy – Yay or Nay? We Ask Doctors and Experts

Do you think abs are hard to achieve and maintain? Let’s take it up a notch. Do you thinks abs are hard to achieve or maintain during pregnancy?

This seemingly impossible feat first came into the mainstream in 2015 when model Sarah Stage shared a picture of a barely-visible baby bump despite being eight months pregnant.

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Two years later, Stage is pregnant again and has shared more pregnancy pictures on her social media over the last couple of weeks.

An Instagram search would reveal that abs on a pregnant stomach are no longer an unheard phenomenon. Several women are making the choice to have this body type during pregnancy.

However, this trend has triggered a debate around the possible health risks or benefits it can have for the mother and the baby.

Will this strengthen the stomach and abdominal muscles and thereby facilitate pregnancy? Or will it jeopardise the health of the mother and the baby? The Quint reached out to a gynaecologist and a Yoga expert and this is what they had to say.

Let’s Not Use The Same Index for Indian and Caucasian Women: Monica Chand, Yoga Guru

If you already have a history of fitness, then having abs during pregnancy becomes simply a matter of maintaining it, says Yoga expert Monica Chand. However, she points out that it would still require you to have a good understanding of your body, because ab exercises pulls the stomach in directions opposite of how the stomach is and should be avoided during pregnancy.

Maybe for someone who has been fit for a long time, has had abs for years, it is possible with a very good diet and regimen and a good understanding of the body. But it’s not at all recommended for an average Indian woman.
Monica Chand, Yoga Expert

Additionally, Monica points out that Indian women should not compare their bodies with Caucasian women because of four factors. Firstly, there is a significant difference in food and diet. The latter’s diet is far richer in fibres, vegetables and fruits as compared to what an average Indian woman eats. Secondly, there is a marked difference in the genetic makeup, often making women in the West more athletic than their Eastern counterparts.

Thirdly, the weather allows for more physical activity in several parts of the world which is often not the case in India where lifestyles are more sedantary.

And finally, the lifestyles are also hugely different in the two regions. The level of pollution and toxins is significantly different in India

Monica, who is a leading Yoga instructor in the country, emphasises that abs during pregnancy is not something to be recommended to an average Indian woman.

Excessive Exercise During Pregnancy is a No-No: Dr Ranjana Sharma, Gynaecologist

Reiterating what Monica said, Dr Ranjana Sharma, a gynaecologist at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, points out that no muscle-building exercises are recommended during pregnancy. However, for someone who already has a certain level of fitness and has abs, it only becomes a matter of maintaining it, albeit with a strict regime.

Exercise during pregnancy is a good idea but it should not be excessive. For example swimming is advisable, many women swim right from the start to the end of their pregnancy. But exercise generates body heat and too much heat is not good for the baby.
Dr Ranjana Sharma, Gynaecologist, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital

Dr Sharma further adds that different bodies have different configurations. It is not uncommon for a tall woman, with a long torso, to not have a big baby bump. The visibility of the bump is specific to every woman with many women not having a pronounced belly.

In case of Sarah Stage and other women who have abs and taut stomachs during and immediately after their pregnancy, the only way to determine whether is healthy or not is to look at the individual reports of their pregnancy’s progression and the baby and the mother’s health.

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