Learn The Top Core Movements After Birth
Are you ready to build back your core stronger than ever after giving birth but have no idea where to start? Are you ready to stop feeling like your midsection is jello and create a solid foundation for your body?
If so, you’re in the right place.
Learn exactly what kinds of abdominal exercises you need to do after having a baby, what you should avoid, and step-by-step instructions on how to do the 5 best core movements postpartum. Practice these movements 3-5 times a week and feel the strength come back to your core.
What Are the Best Abdominal Exercises After Having a Baby?
The best ab exercises postpartum include movements that incorporate the multiple layers of the abdominals, the pelvic floor, and your breathing habits. Core strengthening exercises like crunches and sit-ups target your rectus abdominis but lack engagement of your transverse abdominis, which is crucial to strengthen after having a baby.
Choosing exercises that incorporate proper breathing, pelvic floor engagement, and strengthening your abdominals will significantly improve the healing process and get you back to working out sooner.
Changes To Abdominal Muscles During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, the muscles in a woman’s abdomen undergo significant changes as the uterus expands to accommodate the growing baby. As the uterus expands, it puts pressure on the abdominal muscles, causing them to stretch and separate slightly at the center line.
This separation, known as diastasis recti, can result in a protruding or “pregnant” appearance of the abdomen. Diastasis recti is a common condition during pregnancy and usually resolves on its own after delivery.
However, if the separation is severe or does not improve within about 3 months after pregnancy, it may be necessary to seek treatment from a healthcare provider.
Additionally, the added weight of the baby and uterus can cause changes in a woman’s posture, leading to lower back pain and discomfort.
It’s important to take care of your muscles through proper breathing techniques, rebuilding strength in the abdominal muscles and stretches to improve poor posture.
Focusing on these three components will greatly improve your recovery after pregnancy and help you feel strong again.
When Can I Start Core Exercises After Pregnancy?
You can start postpartum core exercises as soon as you feel ready. The ACOG no longer states that you should wait 6 weeks postpartum but start as soon as your body feels ready to exercise.
Take it slow and listen to your body. If you’re excessively worn out or have increased bleeding or pain while exercising, it’s a sign that your body might not be ready.
If you’re unsure, always talk with your OBGYN or midwife to make sure you’re ready to begin exercising.
Ab Exercises to Avoid Postpartum
There is no set of exercises you should avoid after giving birth, but there are a few signs your body isn’t ready for a particular exercise.
Avoid core exercises that cause:
- Pelvic heaviness
- Coning or doming of the abdomen
- Pelvic pain
If you notice any of these signs while exercising, stop performing that exercise. It’s a signal from your body that the movement is too strenuous for your abdominal muscles and pelvic floor. Not listening to your body may lead to complications like lower back pain, worsening diastasis recti, or pelvic organ prolapse.
That’s why focusing on low-intensity movement and exercises that are more targeted to healing your deep core muscles is preferred within the first few months after having a baby.
If you’re having a lot of discomfort with exercise postpartum, consider looking into a pelvic floor physical therapist. Getting assessed by a physical therapist will help you feel more confident beginning an exercise program and prevent any abdominal issues.
What Postnatal Tummy Exercises are Safe for Diastasis Recti?
You can do plenty of safe core exercises to help heal your diastasis recti! Each exercise described below is perfect if you have diastasis recti. Safe exercises engage your transverse abdominis, are slow and controlled and don’t cause any signs of intolerance.
Some more diastasis recti safe exercises include:
- Heel Slide March
- Banded Kickbacks
- Wall Plank
- Rolling Bridge
- Fire Hydrants
Post-Baby Ab Exercises to Get Rid of Mom Pooch
Now that you feel ready to start exercising your core, here are my top 5 recommendations to do postpartum. You can do each exercise for 3 rounds 3-5 times per week or focus on 2-3 at a time and progress when you feel comfortable.
Take each movement at your pace and utilize the modifications if you need to. These exercises are going to be vital in getting you back to your pre-pregnancy workouts without pain or discomfort.
- Start on all fours with your arms and legs perpendicular to the floor.
- Inhale with a 360-degree breath relaxing your pelvic floor. Exhale, engaging your pelvic floor and abdominals while lifting your knees one inch off the ground.
- Breathe normally while continuing to engage your core. Your back should be flat the entire time.
- Hold this position for 30-45 seconds. If your core is no longer engaged, bring your knees down, re-engage and keep going.
- Start on all fours with your arms and legs perpendicular to the floor.
- Inhale with a 360-degree breath relaxing your pelvic floor. Exhale and engage your pelvic floor and abdominals while lifting your right arm and left leg.
- The goal is to lift your arm and leg parallel to the floor, but it may take time to work up to that. If that’s too difficult, bring your arm and leg directly out in front of you without lifting them.
- Ensure your core is engaged and avoid arching your back. You should be able to balance a cup on your back the entire time.
- Bring your arm and leg back to the starting position and repeat for 10 reps on each side.
Glute Bridge Ball Squeeze:
- Begin on your back with your knees bent and a pilates ball (or pillow) in between your knees.
- Inhale with a 360-degree breath relaxing your pelvic floor. Exhale and engage your pelvic floor and abdominals while lifting your butt off the floor and squeezing the ball between your knees.
- Hold this position for 2 seconds and release back to the starting position.
- Repeat for 20 repetitions.
Knee Fall Out:
- Begin on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Inhale with a 360-degree breath relaxing your pelvic floor. Exhale and engage your pelvic floor and abdominals while tilting your right knee to the right side.
- Make sure your hips are not rotating in this movement. You can put your hands on your hips to prevent the hips from rotating.
- Extend the knee as far as you can without rotating and bring it back to the starting position.
- Repeat for 10 repetitions on each side.
Kneeling Side Plank:
- Begin on your right side with your knees bent and leaning on your right forearm.
- Inhale with a 360-degree breath relaxing your pelvic floor. Exhale and engage your pelvic floor and abdominals while lifting your hips off the ground.
- Your body should be in a straight line, including your head. Keep your core muscles engaged throughout the entire movement and prevent your hips from falling toward the floor.
- Hold this position for 30-45 seconds. Repeat on the left side.
- If holding this position is too difficult, lift your hips for 2 seconds and come back down. Repeat this for 20 repetitions on each side.
Practice The Best Core Exercises Postpartum
Now that you know the best types of exercises to heal your core postpartum and have 5 great examples, it’s time to practice them! Start doing these daily or even just 3 times a week and feel the strength and core stability come back after giving birth.
It can feel frustrating when you feel so weak after having a baby but it doesn’t have to stay that way. Building back your core strength and healing diastasis recti takes consistency and a little bit of time.
You will be so grateful you took the time to stabilize your core and feel stronger in motherhood. Now I want to know, which exercise are you most excited to try?! Let me know in the comments.