Camarãos, also called shrimps or hip scapes, are one of the most basic and important exercises in BJJ.
You learn to do a hip scape probably in your first day on a mat and you will drill them day in and day out from white to black belt during your whole BJJ life, which hopefully means forever 😉
The question is, can you continue doing this exercise during the pregnancy? Yes you can, but not until the end. I did shrimps during my three pregnancies until the 25th-30th week, depending on the side of the belly and of course, always that I feel confortable with it, that is, no pain or whatever. Remember, rule number one is always listen to your body.
So unless your gynecologist/midwife has restricted those exercises, most (but not all!) abdominal exercises are safe, including shrimps, which is actually not thought to strength your abs (it is more about learning to scape your hips) but since they require bending you body and hence exercising the abdominal muscles, it has to be included here as abs exercises.
In fact, strengthening your abs when you’re expecting supports your pelvic organs as your baby belly gets bigger and can also alleviate pressure on your back and help against the lower back pain that is so common during the pregnancy.
However, your baby and your belly will continue to grow up and there is a moment in which you should not do any exercises while lying completely on your back because your uterus and baby are lying on important blood vessels and they are big enough to potentially compress the vena cava, the vein that carries blood to your heart — which can be dangerous for you and your baby.
But this article was not thought to be about abdominals but about hip scapes, and as I said, there is a moment in which the uterus and baby are so big that neither is good to lie on your back not to tighten too much your abdominals any more (3rd trimester). And still I have learned from my two other pregnancies that, after delivery, when I started to recover and train again, the pelvis/hips were the more difficult and frustrating thing to recover.
Frustrating because you may not even have given it a thought during your whole pregnancy. You were worry about how rusty your technique will be, how bad your cardio or how much muscles/strength you have lost. But you don’t think that the easiest drill ever, doing a hip scape, will be nearly imposible for weeks. For me personally it was a shock after my first baby and i cried myself out during many practices when realized how fucked up my hips were.
And difficult because they are the most damaged part of your body (in case of natural delivery, which is at the same time the best delivery you can have). Your pelvic floor is badly weakened, the ligaments are loosen, the bones are displaced. I tell you, it is not nice.
So when I had my second baby and I had to recover again, I could skip the frustration. I was mentally prepared from the first time. I knew it would happen and got psycologically ready to accept it and that it would take time and willingness to get my hips back in shape.
But I also learned an exercise from my midwife, that it looks very easy (it is until you have a huge belly, then it gets little bit more complicated) and that help to keep some agility of your hips. It was the best substitute to hip scapes that I coud find and believe me, even if it looks like stupid to do this kind of stuff when you are a tough BJJ fighter used to hard sparring and whatnot, when you are pregnant in your 3rd trimester, may be 13-20 kg over your weight, you have not many options to keep yourself as fit as possible and these little exercises (together with many others) benefit you a good deal: it helps regaining control of your bladder, to avoid back pain, even it is good for better sex (well-toned pelvic floor increases feeling in your vagina) and it helps to be back on the mats as soon as possible, which is the most important thing… or not 😉
Click the link for the video: