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Pregnancy tip: activate your abs

Expert insight: 

“Breath work utilizes the entire inner core unit: the diaphragm when you inhale and the transverse abdominis, obliques, and pelvic floor on the exhale,” explains Kaitlyn Wozniak, a group fitness instructor at Equinox locations in and around Washington, DC. 

To engage your abs before you workout (and to ease common pains, prevent diastasis recti, and prepare your body for labor), she recommends this technique: Lie on your back with knees bent, feet planted on the floor, and hands on your stomach. Inhale deeply into your diaphragm over 3 seconds, then exhale for 3 seconds, deflating your stomach all the way. Complete 15 full breaths. 

Once you’ve done it daily for a week, you can graduate to the next level: practicing the method while lying on your right and left sides (again, for a week). After that, try it in a tabletop position, then kneeling, then standing. 

The bottom line: 

Make this part of your workout routine in the first trimester until delivery, Wozniak says.