By Michelle Ishio (Resident Post Pregnancy Rehab Specialist and Fitness Expert)
After having a baby, we have so many different thoughts and feelings, and we have to make a lot of necessary adjustments. Each mom has her own place, and priority, on how she feels about her post-baby body.
For most moms, it doesn't matter if it's our 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or more pregnancy, with each pregnancy, we wonder how our post baby body will look, and how we will feel afterwards.
news is that your post baby belly can, and will go down. How long it takes
depends on how pro-active you are about doing something about it.
of the jiggle from our belly is the extra body fat, and water that we gained
during the pregnancy; and with a well-rounded "diet" of not over-eating, and
some exercising will help with that. Another part of the bulging
look is the fact that our post baby belly muscle that had been stretched out for months
while pregnant, still is weak, and protruding.
A mother's post baby belly is an important topic to
talk about, do something about, and it goes far beyond simply the way it looks. Yes, if we don't feel good about the way our post pregnancy body looks, it affects our self-confidence, but there are other important reasons to address this issue.
Not recovering your post pregnancy muscles, (diastasis recti included), affects a new mom's posture, core strength in general, the amount of back aches we suffer from, and even how well our pelvis floor muscles recovery too!
job of the exercises I will be describing are to help the post pregnancy abdominal muscles
with going back to the proper position, then strengthen and tighten the post pregnancy abdominal muscles within
most "normal" delivery's, a woman is healthy enough to do
a little something before starting back slowly to her old routine.
If you have other circumstances or are not sure, just check with your
doctor and get a clear to start these abdominal exercise suggestions.
The first exercise
is something you can do from the beginning, days after delivering.
(you can do this standing up too; just make sure you are standing with “good posture”).
1. Sit in a sturdy chair.
2. Make sure you are sitting up tall with your shoulders drawn back and down for good upper-body posture.
3. Take a deep breath in, (and while you do that, you want to slowly in control, allow your belly to relax partially outwards).
Partially is enough because with “post-pregnancy” bellies, we are especially lax there, and we only need our bellies to “open up” just enough to allow our diaphragm to have enough room move to help us get in a deep strong breath.
4. As you breathe out slowly, slowly pull-in your abdominal muscles as far in as you can.
5. Repeat 5 – 10 times.
If you would like a bit more of a challenge, then get on your hands and knees and do this same exercise in that position. When on your hands and knees, remember to not hunch your shoulders towards your ears, (and have your shoulders drawn back).
How often to do the Seated Pull-ins:
1. As often as you can during the day; when driving, when watching TV, while washing dishes, etc.
1 set at a time.
5-10 repetitions per set.
Several sets throughout the day.
also helps your body re-connect the brain to the muscles, to re-gain
muscle control, which will help with re-adjusting your post baby posture.
Please Note: If you have "diastasis recti", it is not recommended to move onto the next couple more challenging abdominal training.
What is Diastasis Recti?
Our abdominal/core wall is compromised of many different directions of muscles. The muscles that we need to check about for Diastasis Recti is the muscle that we commonly refer to as our “six-pack”.
When you look at your “six-pack”, you will notice that there is a space that splits the “six-pack” from a left side, and a right side
Lay on your back, bend your knees and have your feet flat on the ground; now slightly lift your head/shoulder, and with your fingers, feel in between your 6-pacl halves. Once the spacing
is less than two finger spacing apart, you are ready to move onto
another great abdominal work-out.
Some Mom's wonder why they still have a "pregnant look" well after their baby has been born; especially if they do not have an issue with having high amounts of abdominal body fat. Is many cases, it is because the mom has this diastasis recti issue. If the mom does abdominal rehabilitation exercises, this will help greatly. If the diastasis recti is severe, then surgery may be necessary, but definitely try non-evasive post pregnancy abdominal exercises first.
This is a very
simple exercise to do, and it will allow you to have distinct awareness of your abdominal
muscle positioning, and body posture; which is important when rehabilitating
your abdominal muscles after pregnancy.
1. Lay on the floor on your back. Bend your knees, and only have the heels of your feet on the floor.
6. Move-up and down like this for 10 rapid, (limited movement), repetitions.
2. Make sure your lower back is pressed into the floor the entire time you do this exercise.
3. Lift your shoulders off the floor as high as you can comfortably go, and hold, (this is your starting position).
4. Re-check to make sure your lower back is still pressed tightly into the floor.
5. Pulse up and down leading with your shoulder’s (the movement should be only a couple inches up and down). MAKE SURE that your shoulders’ never go down lower than the starting position, (where you lifted “comfortably high” in #3).
Note: Your lower back should be constantly pressed into the floor, AND your abdominal muscles should never relax during the active reps; it should be constantly tightened into your body.
A few sets.
10 - 20 repetitions per set.
Reminder: Lead with your shoulders, not your chin. Always keep your back flat on the floor and never relax your abs during a set.
Don't worry if you think you are not "up" high enough.
"High enough" is as high as you can hold yourself up consistently,
and your height will improve as you get stronger anyway.
This helps target a little more of your lower-abs, as opposed to upper-abs.
1. Lay down with on your back.
2. Place your arms straight, along the side of your body.
3. Lift both of your knees, (one at a time), until your thighs are against your stomach, (shins parallel with the ceiling), and your calves are tight against your hamstring, (back of your thighs).
4. Now press your lower-back against the floor. (Pay attention to how "tight" it is against the floor).
5. Now without letting your lower-back lift up off the floor, AND without your calves pulling away from your hamstrings, SLOWLY lower you feet to the ground.
Before SLOWLY raising your feet/legs back to starting position, re-flatten your back against the floor.
IMPORTANT: While you are doing this exercise, remember to KEEP you belly pulled in... but don't forget to breathe :-).
It doesn't matter how many you do in a row, what MATTERS is that you do them correctly.
To start, maybe you will only do 2 at a time, resting, and keep going with sets of 2, until you do 15 reps.
As you get stronger, you can do 3 sets of 5, until you reach 15 reps.
Be on your way with healing your post baby belly!