Q: Is it safe to do sit-ups and abdominal crunches during pregnancy?

A: Medical studies have established that exercising during pregnancy is a beneficial activity. But the question is, which type of exercises are fit for expectant mothers?

Sit-ups and crunches are usually safe early in pregnancy, but later on you may need to avoid lying on your back for too long because as your uterus grows, its weight can compress the blood vessels leading to your heart. When that happens you will immediately feel dizzy and light headed. You will turn pale or flushed, and would immediately feel a wave of nausea overcome you. If for any reason this occurs, you should turn to your left side to allow the blood to circulate normally. Of course, by that time in your pregnancy, you'll most likely find that sit-ups are almost impossible to do anyway.

According to scientific studies, it is okay to do sit-ups during the first four months of pregnancy, before your stomach becomes very large. Light to moderate exercises is good for your body. Always start slowly and monitor your breathing. Make sure to exercise in a cool, comfortable atmosphere. Stop immediately if you feel a sudden discharge from your vagina or if you feel any pain in your abdomen area. As always, it is recommended to visit your doctor to and consult him on what exercises are best for you and the child inside your womb.

Lying flat on your back tends to lower your blood pressure, which could inhibit the blood supply and about 6 to 10 percent of pregnant women experience rapid drops in blood pressure when they lie down -- even if it's only for a few minutes. The problem can begin in early pregnancy, though it's more likely to occur after 20 weeks.

If you really want to work your abdominal muscles, a better exercise would be to get on the floor on your hands and knees and alternate arching your back up and relaxing it.

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