Post Pregnancy Core building Exercises
Weight loss and
fitness take patience,
time, and discipline; if things are pushed too soon, other problems can arise.
It can take 6-12 weeks to return to a pre-pregnancy state - sometimes longer -
so don't give up!
With proper training, and beginning as early as 24-48 hours after birth, you can
avoid many problems and work toward
rebuilding and toning
your body the right way.
Always check with your doctor before beginning this routine, since all
mothers and all deliveries
are different. Restrictions may apply to you that prevent your doing these
Begin only when your doctor clears you, and always remember that patience and
time will help - so don't get discouraged!
If your ribs and upper back move, like in a
the upper portion of your abs
is emphasized. However, if you move your
pelvis and lower
the lower abs are emphasized. So in order to emphasize your lower abs your
pelvis must move or abs must work to keep your pelvis stable when your legs
Learning the art of Breathing
The skin and
muscles tend to
become loose and jelly-like and might lack the neuromuscular awareness to work
properly. This is why it is important to use
breathing techniques in order to shorten the abdominal wall to its
previous length. As you inhale, your
chest and abdomen
should expand; as you exhale, your chest and abdominal wall should flatten. This
concept is important when retraining your core after
birth. The muscles in
your belly must shorten before they can be strengthened. Exhaling while pulling
your abs in shortens and strengthens with each outward breath.
As the body's balance changes with enlargement of
abdomen, it is important to take your centre of gravity downward, while keeping
your spine stretched up and your
chest open. This upright, graceful stance will make you feel elegant and
confident and also allows more space to be created around the diaphragm, which
needs to find room to contract downward so that you are able to breathe really
deeply and fully.
In addition to
breathing exercises a women can begin with postnatal exercises after 24-32
hrs of normal delivery. Additional exercises that can be taken over are:
Kegels (Pelvic floor contractions): Kegel exercises strengthen the
pelvic floor muscles, which support the uterus, bladder and bowel. Can be done
in any position. Tighten and hold for 5 seconds. Do several times a day. For
more on Kegel,
Pelvic Tilt: While lying on your back with your knees bent, tilt
your pelvis backward as you tighten your abs and exhale. Try to bring your
belly button to your backbone as you push your low back into the
mattress/floor. Hold for 5 seconds, inhale, and relax.
Stretch out: Lie on your back with arms and legs out straight,
palms up. Bend at the ankles so toes are aiming for the ceiling, tighten
thigh muscles and push
knees into the bed/wall. Pull your abdominal muscles in and flatten your back.
Squeeze your shoulder blades together and elongate your neck. Press your hands
back into the bed and hold this for a few seconds, then relax. This allows
your muscles to contract isometrically (without changing length), which is
safe on the body and provides an easy readjustment to normal posture after
Posture Correction: Standing - tuck your chin in to elongate the
neck, pull your shoulders down and back, tighten your abdominal muscles while
pulling your belly into your backbone, tighten your pelvic floor, keep knees
soft, and increase the arch in your foot.
Bridge: Lying on your back with knees bent, contracting your
abdominal, buttock, and pelvic floor muscles, and raise the hips up off the
floor. Hold for 5 seconds and relax down slowly. The farther your feet are
from your buttocks the more challenging it will be.
Heel Sliding: Lying on your back, tighten your abdominal muscles
and do a pelvic tilt. Slowly slide out one leg at a time while tying to
maintain your pelvic tilt. You can progress to sliding both legs out together
as long as you can keep the pelvic tilt and not allow the back to arch. Always
bring legs back one at a time.
Butterfly crunch: For this crunch, you will lie on the ground
again, with your feet flat on the floor, knees bent. Take your knees and
spread them out to the floor if you can, with the soles of your feet together,
creating a large diamond with your legs. From this position, press your back
into the ground as much as you can and slowly lift your upper body from the
floor a few inches. Again, donít worry about this being a large lift, just
engage the muscles, breathe out, and breathe in as you slowly lower down.
Curl ups: Lying on your back, begin with arms outstretched, exhale,
and pull your belly into your spine as you slowly reach with your hands
towards your knees. Only roll up until your shoulder blades lift off, then
inhale and slowly lower. Be sure your stomach flattens (not expands) as you
rise. Also, try diagonal curl ups by reaching right arm past left knee as you
curl up, and vice versa. You can increase the difficulty by changing arm
positions, from easiest to hardest - arms outstretched, arms crossed across
chest, and arms crossed behind head.
Bicycle kick: Lie on your back on a mat or padded carpet with your
knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Press your lower back into the floor,
engaging your abdominal muscles, as you put both hands behind your head (don't
pull on your head). Bring your right elbow over to your
knee, and then bring your left elbow over to your right knee in
a twisting, bicycle pedal motion. Continue to breathe naturally and maintain a
pelvic tilt. Alternate opposite elbow to opposite knee with hands interlaced
behind your head in a slow and controlled manner and with full extension of
each leg on every repetition. Your abdomen should be flattening with exhale,
Double leg raise: Maintain pelvic tilt as you lower your legs,
starting with knees bent and straightening legs out as you lower. Only lower
as far as you can maintain your pelvic tilt. Once you feel your back begin to
arch, return legs one at a time to starting position. Double leg raising will work your hip muscles and is too much pressure on your spine
and abdominal muscles - LOWER with both legs but RAISE one at a time.
In case of vaginal birth you start off the exercises early but in case of
cesarean section give some time to your body to recover. You can however
practice deep breathing, posture correction and complete body
As with any exercise program, lower ab toning exercises after pregnancy need to
be started off slowly and then slowly made more challenging with more
repetitions and possibly even some weights for resistance. With these core
training exercises after pregnancy, you will not only be a fit and healthy mom,
but youíre also going to look good while you do it.
What is Diastisis Recti?
A spreading of the midline of the abdominal wall, it is usually detected in
later pregnancy, and
is present if you can feel a separation of greater than three fingers. The
extent of diastisis should be checked three days
postpartum by lying
on your back with knees bent, placing fingers in midline of abdominal wall
and lifting your head up. Feel for the separation below your fingertips; if
it's greater than three fingers, make the exercise modifications outlined
above until the diastisis is corrected.
Note: Before you do any lower ab toning exercises after pregnancy, make sure
that you get the permission of your doctor. In some cases, you may need to wait
for a few weeks to start any exercise program in order to let an episiotomy or a
cesarean scar heal completely.
Dated 04 April 2013