3rd Trimester ✧ Checking for Diastasis Recti ✧ 12 Exercises to Incorporate

Hi!  Welcome to the 3rd trimester of our pre and postnatal series.

Here are the links to previous posts from this series:

Pre-conception Benefits of Pilates

1st Trimester – 7 Pre-Pilates Exercises to Teach Your Newly Pregnant Clients

2nd Trimester – 7 Mat Exercises to Include plus Equipment Exercises

Let’s get to it!

Third Trimester – 28 – 40 weeks

  • The third trimester is the most physically uncomfortable of the 3 trimesters.
  • Low-back pain and pelvic pain are common due to the weight of the uterus.
  • Fatigue may return from the 1st trimester. Exercise is the number one remedy for fatigue.

Precautions to Take:

Precautions for the 3rd trimester are similar to the 2nd trimester:

  • Mom may be uncomfortable on her back due to the weight of the uterus pressing on the vena cava artery. Symptoms are shortness of breath, dizziness
  • Limit laying flat to about 3 minutes at a time. Let mom be the judge of that. She may be fine laying for 10 min.
    • Modify laying down exercises by either sitting up, or propping heart above the belly or “heart over baby”
  • Relaxin and Progesterone, the hormones responsible for the loosening of the joints and ligaments, begin to rise, leaving mom vulnerable to sprains and falls.
    • Be careful not to overstretch, especially the hamstrings and adductors (inner thighs)
  • Balance issues are common due to a drop in testosterone. Be aware of this when giving exercises that test balance.

Precautions unique to the 3rd trimester:

  • As the due dates comes close, the uterus starts to contract, presenting a risk of abnormal bleeding.
  • Make sure mom has clearance from her doctor or midwife to continue to exercise through the 3rd trimester.
  • Excess pressure on the feet can be an issue. Limit the amount of time mom is on her feet. Alternate between standing and sitting exercises.
  • Diastasis Recti (DR) (abdominal separation) becomes more prevalent as the uterus pushes the abdomen out. See the following tutorial for how and when to check for it.

The “Rec Check”- The NEW Way to Check for DRA

  1. Lay on back, knees bent, feet flat on floor, or on bar, if on a Reformer. In the picture, I have my client on an incline to prevent Supine Hypotensive Syndrome.

2. Hold head in hands and lift shoulders and head. This engages the rectus abdominus muscles, allowing to check for a split. !! Make sure mom is not overly contracting. Otherwise you may not be able to feel it.

3. With 2 fingers, feel the linea alba (middle of the rectus abdominus) for any separation or lack of taughtness (the diastasis recti) along the length of the linea alba:

Linea Alba in Green

*The separation can occur in different areas along the linea alba, although it is more commonly found near the belly button.

4. If the linea alba is soft, and weak, and has a hollow middle, diastasis recti may be present:

  • In this case, eliminate flexion exercises (like crunches or traditional sit-ups). Focus on oblique and transverse abdominal work.

5. If the linea alba is firm and strong, diastasis recti may not be present.

  • Make sure mom understands the transverse abdominal connection, Hug the Baby


  • Hug the Baby – Free the Baby concept- core stability and flexibility, and support and release of the pelvic floor.
  • Good understanding of lateral thoracic breathing
  • Squatting and gentle hanging to stretch the pelvic floor and make room in the torso for growing baby.
  • Scapular stability – latissimus dorsi strength
  • Labor and delivery
  • Motivation
    • Mom may feel less motivated to work-out.
    • Encourage her to be consistent with her work-outs, as it is vital to sustaining energy through the rest of the pregnancy, prepare her for labor and birth, AND she will recover much quicker than if she had not been working-out.
  • Life with baby
    • Lifting and Lowering the car-seat
    • Picking stuff up off of the floor with a baby on your hip
    • Posture while wearing a baby-carrier

Recommended 3rd Trimester Pilates Exercises:

Always make sure your client has clearance from her doctor.

And that she has signed a liability waiver for your studio.

  1. Breathing
-Breath awareness with Lateral Thoracic Breathing-standing, sitting and laying down. (Click on the image below to print for your or your clients)2. Hug the Baby- Belly to the spine – and free the baby-release- -Important for overall stability during exercise and everyday activities.

Click here to read about Hug the Baby

3. Spinal Dance

-Gets the spine moving and breathing

4. up and over, up and twist-works the core

-Creates room in the spine and torso
-Teaches mom to use the core to move the torso.
5. mermaid stretch with elbow
-Stretches innercostals
  1. Big Ball Exercises
    6. Scapular Depression
    7. Pelvic Circles
    – Gets the pelvis moving
    8. Blooming Flower
     – Moves the scapula, and teaches latissimus dorsi engagement.
    9. Contract and Reach – Neutral pelvis to C-curve

    -Stretches shoulders and chest

    10. Rotator Cuff Exercises
    -Vital muscles for support of the weight put on the shoulders.
    -Prepares for holding baby, and other heavy baby items.
    11. Gluteal (Butt) muscle Use and awareness With squatting
-Squatting stretches the pelvic floor, making the Kegel, and other pelvic floor exercises more effective.
12. Gentle Hanging
– Creates room in the torso for baby.
-Lifts the diaphragm from the compacting of the uterus.

That concludes our 3rd trimester post.

Thank you for hanging out with me to learn more about the 3rd trimester!

Please feel free to contact me with questions or comments! AlisonB.Marsh@YourPregnantCore.com

Happy Hundreds!

Alison B. Marsh

What do you think? Let us know!