Pregnancy Love Handles [What To Do About Them]

Are you looking for a way to work on your love handles in pregnancy?

Or maybe you’ve noticed that they are a lot more visible since getting pregnant. Either way, you are in the right place!

In this post, you’ll learn 9 different exercises you can do to work out your love handles safely and effectively.

Let’s get started.


What Are Love Handles?

Love handles are excess fat that is located at your sides, by your hips, and hangs over your waistline. Love handles are also referred to as the “muffin top.”

This is one of the most common areas where we gain fat during and after pregnancy.

How do I get rid of my love handles while pregnant?

Getting rid of love handles during pregnancy is very difficult. You can use exercise to help strengthen the muscles around your abdomen and low back, but exercise alone wont be sufficient.

The most important thing you can do is avoid gaining excessive weight throughout your pregnancy.

This means gaining no more than 20-35 lbs depending on your starting pre-pregnancy weight.


I know that this is easier said than done, but it is the most effective way to prevent your love handles from becoming bigger.

Can you still lose fat while pregnant?

It is definitely possible to lose fat while pregnant, but I generally don’t recommend it. Especially if your pre-pregnancy BMI was less than 30.

Trying to lose fat while pregnant can be associated with complications of undernutrition which could affect fetal growth.

Always check in with your OBGYN and obstetric nutritionist to learn how to incorporate healthy eating into your pregnancy to avoid excessive weight gain.

Do Love Handles Go Away After Pregnancy?

Love handles may go away after pregnancy if you lose any excess body fat that you have gained throughout the gestation.

You are more likely to lose your love handles if you are able to get to your ideal bodyweight.

For example, an ideal bodyweight for a woman who is 5 foot 3 inches, ranges from 107lbs to 135lbs. But just keep in mind that your body shape will largely be determined by your genetics.

You can do this through a combination of diet and exercise.

Both are important, and you shouldn’t do one without the other.

You can learn more about postpartum nutrition and getting rid of baby fat postpartum here.

Exercises You Can Do To Work Your Love Handles During Pregnancy

Okay, so now let’s go over some exercises you can do to target the love handles.

Remember, exercise alone will do very little to help you lose fat. Rather, you should use these exercises in pregnancy to maintain a strong core.


Ok, now that we have that out of the way, let’s get started!

Waiter Carry

The first exercise on my list is the waiter carry.

This is a great stabilization exercise that strengthens the oblique muscles, the rest of the core, and your shoulders. The nice thing about this exercise is that it will challenge your anti-rotational and anti-lateral flexion strength.

That’s a fancy way of saying it will strengthen your ability to resist motion. This is a unique way of training your core without actually needing to bend at the spine.

To do it, you will need a dumbbell.

Here’s how it looks:

pregnant woman performing waiter carry with dumbbell
  • Pick up a dumbbell and press it straight up overhead.
  • Keep your elbow locked out and close to your body throughout the entire exercise.
  • Next, all you have to do is walk forward while maintaining your torso as straight as possible.
  • Be sure, to train both sides equally.

Take 20 steps forward per side.

Half Kneeling Chop

The half kneeling chop is another great core stabilization exercise that will challenge your anti-rotational strength.

You will need a dumbbell to do this exercise.

Here’s how it looks:

pregnant woman doing half kneeling lift and chop with a dumbbell
  • Assume a half-kneeling position, making sure that your hips are perfectly squared underneath your shoulders.
  • Feel free to place a cushion on the floor underneath the bottom knee.
  • Next, grab a dumbbell with both hands and hold in front of the hip which has the knee down on the floor.
  • From here, swing the dumbbell up and over towards your opposite shoulder.
  • Slowly bring it back down towards your hip in a smooth controlled fashion.
  • Do not let your spinal position change at all throughout the exercise.

Do 8-10 repetitions per side.

Suitcase Deadlifts

Up next is the suitcase deadlift. This is another anti-lateral flexion exercise that will strengthen the obliques, as well as your hips, and glutes.

It presents an uneven load to your core muscles, strengthening your ability to resist movement.

You will need access to a dumbbell to do it.

Here’s how it looks:

pregnant woman performing suitcase deadlift with dumbbell
  • Place the dumbbell on a platform at your side so that it is at a mid-shin height.
  • Bend at the hips by pushing your butt back and keeping your back as straight as possible.
  • Grab the dumbbell handle without lifting it so that you can make sure that you are in an optimal position.
  • You should feel a slight stretch in the hamstrings. Your back should be straight, and your core should be engaged.
  • While holding the dumbbell, all you have to do is stand up slowly by extending your hips.
  • Return the dumbbell slowly back down to the platform by bending at the hips, and continuing to keep your back straight.

Do 8-10 repetitions per side.

Uneven Squats

The next core stabilization exercise is the uneven squat. Similar to the suitcase deadlift, this exercise will strengthen your obliques because of the uneven load on your body.

This exercise will also strengthen your quads, adductors and glutes.

Here’s how it looks:

  • Place a dumbbell up on one of your shoulders, and balance it there for the entire movement.
  • Next, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, pointing your toes out by about 30 degrees.
  • Brace your core, and bend at the hips and knees until you are at a depth where you feel comfortable.
  • Pause for a 1 count at the bottom and come back up by squeezing your glutes.
  • Make sure that your back stays straight, and your heels remain flat on the floor at all times.

Do 8-10 repetitions per side.

Okay, so those are the anti-movement core stabilization exercise that you can do to work your love handles while pregnant.

But you may have seen other exercises you can do that involve bending the spine to train the obliques.

Are those safe to do?

Can I do side bends while pregnant?

You can do side bends while pregnant, but it is important that you do them in a controlled fashion, avoiding excessive movement. Any exercise where you bend laterally will strengthen the obliques in a concentric fashion.

Here are some safe side bending exercises you can do in pregnancy.

Standing Side Bend Reach

This first exercise is relatively easy and simple. I want you to use this exercise to learn a couple of things:

  1. What it feels like to activate your obliques in a safe unloaded position
  2. To learn how far your range of motion should be when bending (Hint: It won’t be a lot)

Here’s what the exercise looks like.

pregnant woman performing standing side bend reach stretch

Make sure to focus on feeling this exercise in the obliques as much as you can.

Do 8-10 reps per side.

Side Plank Dips

The side plank is already one of the best exercises for training the core muscles and the obliques. Adding a hip dip to the movement increases the stability and strength component of the core.

Here’s how to do it:

pregnant woman doing side plank dips
  • Lie on your side and prop yourself up on your elbow/forearm.
  • To make the movement easier, place the knee of the bottom leg down so that is in contact with the floor.
  • Extend the top leg and place that foot on the ground.
  • Make sure that your spine and hips are in as straight a line as possible.
  • From here, pulse your hips up and down slowly.
  • Focus on really activating the oblique muscle of the side closest to the ground.
  • Make sure to do both sides.

Do 8-10 repetitions per side.

Side Plank Leg Raises

This next exercise is similar to the side plank dips, except this time, the movement will be coming from your legs.

As a result, it will create a relative bending of your torso, while strengthening your hip abductors.

Here’s how it looks:

pregnant woman doing side plank leg abduction
  • Assume the same modified side plank position as before, making sure to keep your spine and hips as straight as possible.
  • From here, begin raising your top leg up towards the ceiling while keeping your knee straight.
  • Bring it up as high as you comfortably can, and focus on activating the top oblique as you’re doing it.
  • Slowly return back to the starting position and repeat on both sides.

Do 8-10 repetitions per side.

Side Plank Crunch

The third side plank variation is the hardest. Only do this exercise if you feel comfortable with the ones above.

This is what it looks like:

pregnant woman performing a modified side plank with a crunch
  • Assume the same modified side plank position as before, making sure to keep your spine and hips as straight as possible.
  • Next, bring your top hand behind your head with your elbow bent.
  • Next, bend up your top knee towards your head, while simultaneously bringing your elbow toward the knee.
  • Don’t worry about trying to make them touch.
  • The range of motion may be very small, but that’s okay.
  • Repeat on both sides.

Do 8-10 repetitions per side.

So those are some of the best exercises you can do in pregnancy and postpartum to work your love handles.

Now let’s go over a few other related questions.

Related Questions

What If I Have Love Handles Before Pregnancy?

If you want to get rid of love handles before pregnancy, then it is important that you work on lowering your body fat levels.

The most effective way to do this is to diet and exercise. If your pre-pregnancy BMI is greater than 30, then losing fat before you get pregnant will lower your risk of

  • Cesarean section
  • Macrosomia (big baby)
  • Gestational Diabetes
  • Preeclampsia

But I want you to keep one thing in mind.

Having love handles before pregnancy is nothing to be ashamed of. Sometimes, you don’t have complete control over how your body looks.

The best thing you can do is improve your nutrition and get a healthy dose of regular exercise!

Are There Back Fat Exercises I Can Do While Pregnant?

There are several exercises you can do to strengthen and develop your back while you are pregnant. These include exercises where you are standing, sitting, kneeling, or on your knees.

You must avoid any exercise that has you lying flat on your back or on your stomach.

I go over some of these exercises in 15 Easy Back Fat Exercises You Can Do At Home. (Refer to the section called Back Fat Exercises On Your Hands and Knees).

How To Hide Love Handles While Pregnant

A lot of women are constantly asking how to hide their “muffin top pregnancy.”

While there are no perfect solutions for hiding fat around your waist, there is clothing that can help.

Spanx offers a highly rated pair of shorts that “shapes” your tummy, butt, and thighs.

Check them out on Amazon and see what you think!

Final Words On Love Handles In Pregnancy

So while you may not be able to completely get rid of love handles in pregnancy, you can do your part by strengthening the obliques, improving your nutrition, and staying active.

If you want to lose fat, its best that you do it pre-pregnancy, or postpartum.

Now I want to hear from you.

Did you get prominent love handles during pregnancy?

What did you do?

Comment below and let me know!

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Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

Brittany Robles is a full-time OBGYN physician, a NASM certified trainer, and a prenatal and postnatal fitness specialist. She holds a Master of Public Health degree in maternal health with a special interest in exercise and nutrition. She is also the co-author of The White Coat Trainer. Learn more about her here.

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