Sometimes we may have questions about things that seem silly, and we don’t want to pose to people we know. Some days, I think that’s the internet’s real purpose – to answer the silly questions that we can’t bring ourselves to ask anyone else.
So if you’ve been wondering – but didn’t want to ask – whether or not you can suck in your stomach while you’re pregnant, I’ve got the answers you need.
It isn’t harmful to suck in your stomach occasionally while you’re pregnant. In fact, doing so may potentially help strengthen your core and make childbirth easier. (Experts are divided on whether or not that’s the case.) It can even be a way to ‘hug’ your baby while he’s still inside.
You should never be ashamed of your baby bump. You’re growing life in that stomach, after all! However, sucking in your stomach from time to time isn’t going to be dangerous – keep reading, and I’ll tell you why that is.
Can You Suck Your Stomach in When Pregnant?
First of all, you may be wondering why anyone would even need to know the answer to this question. After all, we don’t go around sucking in our stomachs all day, right?
Well, to be honest, it happens more than you might think. As a woman, I can speak from experience and say that I often suck in my stomach when I stand up or walk through a crowd of people – it’s just a habit. It makes me stand up straighter and look thinner, so I do it often.
It can also help me take up less space, so you don’t have to worry about people inadvertently bumping into me in a crowd.
And what about when we’re trying to fit into clothes that are almost too small? Who among us hasn’t sucked in our stomach as much as possible so we can fit into our favorite, just a bit too-small pair of jeans?
We may not be sucking them in for long, but we still suck them in for that brief period. And I’m sure some of us have sucked in our stomachs a bit tighter when we’ve walked past someone we want to impress.
Of course, clothes and vanity aren’t the only reasons for sucking in a stomach.
Many yoga poses require you to suck in your stomach and even hold it that way for a certain amount of time.
There are even “experts” online who encourage women to regularly suck in their stomachs through a method alternately called the Bloom Method or the Belly Pump to help prepare them for childbirth (source: Today & The Bloom Method).
Now that we know why we may need to suck in our stomachs, let’s address the question of whether or not it’s safe to do so while pregnant.
You can suck in your stomach while pregnant, and it is totally safe for your baby. Your baby is surrounded by amniotic fluid, which will cushion him and keep him comfortable from the compression of you sucking in your stomach. However, you shouldn’t suck your stomach in all the time, though.
The experts at the Royal Women’s Hospital in Victoria, Australia, are huge proponents of the belly pump (or Bloom) method. They have a section on their website specifically to tell women how to “suck in their stomachs.” They call it “cuddling your baby with your abdominal muscles.” Here’s how to follow the belly pump method:
- Move onto a comfortable, stable surface and get on your hands on your knees.
- Allow your stomach to relax completely.
- Inhale, drawing in the lower part of your tummy as you do.
- Hold this position for three seconds or longer.
- Let out your breath and relax your stomach.
- Repeat this process ten times or more, resting between each turn.
- Continue the exercises regularly, working up to holding your stomach in for ten seconds at a time (source: Royal Women’s Hospital Victoria).
Brooke Cates, the creator of the Bloom Method, advises similar exercises, though she doesn’t necessarily ask you to get down on your hands and knees. Instead, she encourages women to sit cross-legged to do the Belly Pump (source: The Bloom Method).
Other websites, doctors, and experts will encourage different positions, including standing up. If you’d like to see an example of what this technique looks like, check out this YouTube video:
These experts believe doing this regularly throughout your pregnancy will help strengthen your abdominal muscles and make it easier for you to push when it comes time to deliver. The creator and supporters of the Bloom Method support these beliefs as well.
However, there have been studies conducted to check the validity of these beliefs.
While the results of these studies were favorable, there wasn’t enough conclusive evidence to prove for a fact that the Bloom Method/Belly Pump is any more helpful than yoga or other core-strengthening exercises (source: International Journal of Exercise Science).
However, because they’re safe as far as most doctors are concerned, you can do these exercises from the first trimester until the last without any issues. However, keep in mind that you won’t be able to “suck in” nearly as much as your pregnancy progresses – your baby will be taking up too much room!
Now, the above example is more of a technique to help you prepare for labor.
However, if you can suck your stomach in regularly throughout the entirety of your pregnancy without issue, then it’s safe to assume that you can suck it in now and then to help squeeze into some beloved pants.
That said, you shouldn’t suck in your stomach or try the Belly Pump method while you’re lying flat on your back for any reason. Doctors encourage pregnant women to stay off their backs so that the weight of the uterus doesn’t depress the vena cava.
This is especially important if you’re sucking in your belly because doing so will pull your uterus in even closer to that major blood vessel, which can be very dangerous.
Don’t worry too much about sucking in occasionally or wearing a slightly tight pair of your favorite leggings, but don’t suck in to hide your baby bump either. You’re a goddess capable of bringing life into the world – be proud, Mama!