During pregnancy a woman’s mid-section — which consists of the abdomen, back and hips — goes through significant changes resulting in a temporary weakening of this core area.
The diminished strength of a woman’s core becomes noticeable when she attempts to initiate intra-abdominal pressure which is necessary to keep her torso upright during daily activities.
Women are generally encouraged to begin re-strengthening their core after completing the recommended 6 weeks of the postpartum recovery process. Before starting any exercise routine it is important to get clearance from a physician to ensure that there are no long-term complications such as Diastasis Recti— a vertical separation of the abdominal muscles common after pregnancy.
The following post-pregnancy workouts are an excellent introduction to re-strengthen your postpartum core gradually
Integrate these postpartum exercises to your workout routine starting with short sets of 1 or 2 and work your way up to 3 to 4 sets as you begin to feel stronger.
1. Deep Belly Breathing
Belly breathing involves fully expanding and contracting your stomach with deep and lengthy breaths.
- Lie on your back take a deep breath through your nose and breathe out completely through your mouth.
- Each breath should be approximately 3 seconds in length.
2. Pelvic Bridge
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- With your arms extended at your sides and palms flat on the floor, lift your pelvis toward the ceiling.
- Hold this position for 3 seconds.
- Then gently bring your torso back down to the floor and repeat.
3. Bent Leg Raises
- Lie on your back with your arms on your sides and knees bent with your feet flat on the floor.
- Engage your core and raise one leg towards your chest.
- Bring it back down to the floor slowly and repeat the step with your opposite leg.
- Alternate this move with both legs.
4. Horizontal Plank
- Lie face down on the floor with your body fully extended horizontally.
- With your arms bent and your weight on your forearms prop yourself up off the floor. Your elbows should be directly beneath your shoulders and your body should form a straight line from your head to your ankles.
- Engage your core by sucking in your belly button into your spine.
- Once you are in the correct position, hold the plank for 30 seconds.
5. Side Plank
- Lie on your side with your legs fully extended.
- Prop your upper body up on your left elbow and forearm.
- Raise your hips off the floor until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles.
- Hold the side plank position for 30 seconds.
Additional Exercises For When Your Core is Stronger.
Two Additional Exercises that can be added to your routine when your core is stronger.
- Straight Leg Raises
- Abdominal Crunches
BONUS EXERCISE TIP
Wear an Abdominal Binder
Binding your abdomen can also remind your abdominal muscles how to behave. Though you may not be consciously tightening your abs, the compression helps them snap back from being stretched to accommodate your baby. Read more about the Benefits of Wearing an Abdominal Binder in our next post.
- Always consult a qualified medical professional before beginning any exercise program.
- All you need to get started is: An exercise Mat or thick towel and Comfortable, supportive clothing.
- Your body needs time to recover gradually after a vaginal or C-section birth before you are cleared to begin exercise.
- During this initial recovery time, wearing a Postpartum Girdle is an excellent way to help your uterus go back to its place in less time and to provide you with abdominal support.