Sucking in a Pregnant Belly: When It’s Safe & When It’s Not

It is unlikely that holding in your stomach while pregnant will have any negative effects on yourself or your baby, particularly during the initial stages of pregnancy.

However, the practice should only be done for short periods of time and discontinued at the first sign of discomfort to avoid physical harm.

Most women are physically able to suck in their stomach to some degree until midway through the second trimester of pregnancy, but it is not recommended during pregnancy.

Sucking in your stomach can compromise breathing patterns, posture, and your pelvic floor, in turn harming urination, bowel movements, sex, and the overall internal structure of the organs.

According to Adam Browning from the Cleveland Clinic’s Medina Hospital:

“Stomach gripping restricts the motion of the diaphragm… This muscle contracts when you breathe, pulling down on the lungs, allowing them to expand so you can draw air in.

Normally, your belly would expand too, but if you keep it squeezed in, you’re actually cutting off the amount of air that could be flowing into your lungs by as much as 30 percent.”

Sucking in Your Stomach While Pregnant

While it may seem like a silly question to some, there is a valid concern when it comes to sucking in your stomach while pregnant.

Below we’ve documented a bulk of information that pregnant women should know about the practice. 


It is safe to suck in your stomach while pregnant for short periods of time.

However, there are certain circumstances, such as when lying on your back, that can be dangerous for you or your little one.

Engaging your core can help support your lower back and maintain good posture, but, it’s important to do so in a gentle and controlled manner.

Avoid any excessive or forceful sucking in as this could restrict your breathing or potentially cause discomfort.

Dangers of Sucking in Your Stomach When Pregnant

Many of the dangers of sucking in your stomach aren’t exclusive to pregnancy.

Here are some of the most common risks associated with the practice. 

Restricted Breathing

Belly breathing is our body’s natural mechanism. When we suck in our stomachs, we cannot breathe fully or efficiently.

Frequent or prolonged bouts of this can affect blood pressure, which can have repercussions for both mom and baby. 

Pressure Against Organs

Constriction of the organs in your abdomen can lead to issues with your digestive and excretory systems.

Many pregnant women frequently urinate due to pressure on the bladder and struggle to have a bowel movement due to pressure on the anal sphincter.

Additional pressure against these organs may further harm these functions. 

Poor Posture

Proper posture encourages us to lead with our chest out, shoulders back, and chin high.

It’s not possible to do these things while sucking your stomach in. Continued poor posture can lead to structural issues. 

Decreased Confidence

There is usually an aesthetic aspect to sucking in the stomach.

For pregnant women already dealing with body-image issues, a temporarily slimmer look can have a negative impact on mental health. 

If you’ve been watching those women on TikTok who can make their baby bumps disappear, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.

Let them do their thing, and you do yours, which should be focusing on having a healthy pregnancy.

Guidelines for Sucking in Your Stomach When Pregnant

There are a few guidelines to follow should you choose to suck in your stomach while pregnant. 

  1. Only suck your stomach in for short periods of time. 
  2. Don’t suck in your stomach while lying down. 
  3. Stop sucking in your stomach at the first sign of pain or discomfort. 

When Not To Suck in Your Pregnant Belly

Any activity that feels painful or unnatural during pregnancy should be avoided. So, if at any time sucking in your stomach causes discomfort, you should stop. 

Additionally, expecting mothers shouldn’t suck in their stomachs while lying down on their backs.

Doing so puts increased pressure from gravity on blood vessels in the stomach that are essential to providing the baby with oxygen.

A woman in a blue dress making a heart sign over her baby bump.

How To Hide a Baby Bump

Whether you just don’t want to look pregnant or you’re keeping your little one a secret, there are many ways to hide a baby bump. 

The easiest and safest way to do so is by dressing in clothing that doesn’t cling to the abdomen.

Opt for tunic-style shirts, flowing dresses, skirts with volume, oversized hoodies, or bulky pants such as sweatpants. 

Try tucking in the front of loose tops, wear darker colors, choose distracting patterns over solid colors, and go for layered styles.

After 20 weeks, hiding a baby bump becomes more difficult as the stomach starts to round out and grow. 

Pregnancy-Safe Core Exercises

Core stabilizing exercises during pregnancy can aid in recovery and reduce potential complications.

Many of these exercises serve to stabilize the spine and strengthen the pelvic floor.

Here are some of the best pregnancy-safe exercises:

  • Farmer’s Carry: The farmer’s carry is a walking weight-bearing exercise that strengthens the abdominal obliques. It’s simple, safe, and effective. Follow your doctor’s recommendations when selecting the weight of your kettlebell.
  • Diaphragmatic Breathing: Diaphragmatic breathing targets the transverse abdominal muscles. The practice of breathing deeply can also reduce stress and anxiety. Diaphragmatic breathing can be done standing or sitting. 
  • Pelvic Tilts: Pelvic tilts help ease lower back and pelvic pain, strengthen the core, and loosen stiff muscles. They can be done seated, standing, or on an exercise ball in many variations. 

Exercises To Avoid While Pregnant

Remaining active during pregnancy can help facilitate a smooth delivery, improve mood, and manage weight gain.

However, it’s important to select exercises carefully when pregnant to avoid a negative impact on the baby and reduce the risk of injury.

Also, keep in mind that exercising while pregnant should only be done with permission from your doctor. 

Exercises to avoid while pregnant:

  • Exercises that require lying on your back, right side, or stomach for extended periods of time.
  • Exercises that involve jumping, hopping, or shaking.
  • Exercises that place excessive pressure on the abdomen or pelvic floor.
  • Exercises that require sudden movements through one or multiple planes of motion.
  • Exercises that require sudden jolts of stress through the body (i.e. powerlifting). 

Can Situps Cause Miscarriage in Early Pregnancy?

Situps are generally considered safe during the first trimester of pregnancy.

However, once you’ve reached the second trimester, it’s best to avoid exercises that require you to lie on your back.

These exercises can cause bouts of low blood pressure and are especially detrimental to women with existing blood pressure conditions.