You’re sweet, sweet bundle of joy has arrived! You’ve gotten to indulge in your cravings and food for the last 9 months, providing the nutrients that both you and your baby have needed. But now, you’ve realized that carrying your precious newborn has caused your body to stretch out, and dare I even say it, left you with a a little bit of a tummy pooch that wasn’t there before.
Even if you have been continuing your fitness routine throughout your pregnancy, which is said to make the delivery and pregnancy easier, the truth is that the muscles around your abs have been used for other purposes during the last nine months, and are going to be out of shape. Don’t worry this is completely normal, and something every new mom has to deal with.
If you don’t believe it, just try holding your baby for a few minutes. You’ll soon feel your back start to ache and the strain of the extra weight pulling on your muscles. Now imagine carrying and holding your baby in your arms or back for a full year, before he or she learns how to walk. You might get cold sweats just thinking about it.
There is a simple solution. Make the decision to get your pre-baby body back and regain the core strength you’ve lost.
Understanding your body’s transformation
As you know, pregnancy affects your body in a number of ways. Besides the most obvious, it takes a toll on your core, which are the muscles that make up your midsection. These muscles groups include your stomach, back, and hips. Your back has most likely been strained from the weight you’ve put on during your pregnancy without your abs being able to share any of strain, and your hips have probably expanded as well.
The exercises below will help target, strengths, and relieve the pressure on all your muscle and get them all back to working together again. When you build back your abs, you’re taking the pressure off your back and giving it the rest it deserves.
Where to Start
It is important to start slowly and build up to more challenging and strenuous exercises as your body heals. If you just start out doing a million crunches and sits ups or getting back on the weights right away, you could up straining different muscles while not doing anything to help with your belly at all.
Crunches only target the outer muscles, but not the underlying ones. Starting with an inside-out approach is the way to get lasting results. Michele Olson, PhD, professor of exercise science at Auburn University, in Montgomery, Alabama. Not only will going crunch-crazy get you iffy results, you’ll put too much pressure on this now-delicate, overburdened muscle.
The aim of these exercises to build your muscles up from the inside out to target your strength, stability and muscle endurance. You will want to target and recondition your pelvic and lower body before advancing to your normal routine.
When can you start working out again?
Of course, make sure that your doctor OKs your activities. You know your body best, so don’t push yourself too hard or too fast. Having said that, though, these exercises should be gentle enough for everyone.
Some of the simple stretches and breathing exercises can be done starting 1 week after you give birth. Then for the slightly more advanced moves, usually it is advised to wait 6 weeks before you start working out again after giving birth, but always take to your doctor if you have any concerns or specific questions. Remember to start with the basics and add on more advanced moves as you feel comfortable.
When you are ready, you can build up the intensity, and how many times per week you do the following exercises. There is nothing wrong will starting once a week and building on that till you’re exercising 3-4 times a week.
Finding the motivation
You’ve just been through a lot, and it can be very tempting to relax instead of exercising. However, exercising is one of the very best things you can do for yourself after giving birth. It is not only good for you, for your self-confidence, but will also boost your energy levels. Trust me, you’ll be needing all the energy you can get to keep up with your newborn.
Plus, you’re already stronger than you think. You’ve already been doing your own version of weight lighting for the past 9 months and shown incredible strength by giving birth. You and your body are strong than you think and actually are in a great condition to start claiming your body back.
The sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll see results and be able to get back into the habit of things. You’ll probably be especially eager to stretch and bend your body after having not been able to do so with your little one growing inside your for the past many months.
Get started soon and you’ll have your body and abs back in no time.
Lie on your back with your knees bent. Tighten your stomach muscles and pull down your belly button towards your spine. Tighten your buttocks and lift your pelvis up towards the ceiling. Keep your upper back flat against the floor. Hold for 5 seconds. Relax and then repeat.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly button. Breath in through your nose and push your belly button towards the ceiling. Try to keep your chest still and focus on only expanding your abdomen. Breath out through your mouth and push your belly button down towards the ground.
- The above two are great starter exercises to get those muscles stretched and warmed up.
Single Leg Circle
Lie on your back with your legs extended. Put your arms at your side, plams down. Bring one leg towards your chest and extended it towards the ceiling, so it is at a 90 degree angle to your body. If you need to bend your knee a little but, that is fine. Point your toes and turn your leg slightly outward from the hip.
Focus on isolating your inner and outer thighs as you swing your whole leg across your body in big circular motions, bringing your foot down towards the mat, across your body, then back up towards the ceiling again. Do this 5-8 times, then repeat the move in the other direction. Then repeat with the opposite leg.
Works your abs, hamstrings, inner and outer thighs.
Double Leg Stretch
Start laying down and hug both knees to your chest while your head is listed forward off the mat and your elbows pointed out wide. Keep your head lifted throughout the entire stretch. Then inhale and slowly extend your legs forward and arms backwards. Stretching out your body while drawing your belly button down towards your spine. Exhale as your pull your legs and arms back into the starting position. Repeat six times.
Sit with your knees bent, feet flat and hold your hands out towards your legs. Lean back while tightening your abs and extending your arms straight out in front of you. Straight your legs and bring your body into a V shape.
Hold for 30 seconds, keeping your abs tight the entire time. Relax and repeat. Do 3 sets of 10. Hold for a longer duration as you feel more at ease with this pose.
- The above three are some easy stretches and exercises to continue with If you’re familiar with Pilates or yoga, you might already know some of these. There is a lot of focus on stretching and lengthening your body.Click for the best fat burning thigh exercises.
This is one you can do while sitting on a chair. Perfect for anywhere.
Sit pretty close to the edge of the chair. Put on foot forward a bit. Then slide that foot back towards you as far as you can. Try to get it under the chair as far back as you can go. When you’ve gotten your foot back as far as you can, keep your back straight and lean forward, while you move your foot back even farther. Hold for 10-15 seconds as you tighten your abs. Slowly return to normal start position with your foot back in front of you.
Do this 5 times every couple of hours throughout the day.
Begin lying face down on the floor. Prop yourself up on your knees and elbows for a foreman plank, or on your hands flat, like pictured before right under your shoulders. Straighten out your body so you’re creating one straight continuous line from your heel to your shoulders. Hold for 15-30 seconds starting.
Relax and repeat 3 times. Hold for longer periods of time as you feel more comfortable. This is reportedly the best single exercise for your core.
These you also probably know how to do. Targets your shoulders, chest, arms, and abs. Getting your whole body to work together now after you’ve built back up your strength. If you’re not ready to support all your weight, you can try the knee push ups to take some pressure off.
Good for balance, butt, thighs, hips, abs, and even arms.
Stand with your feet shoulder with apart. Pull your hips back and down until they are at knee level. Keep your back straight throughout the move. Push up on your heels and return to the start position. Exhale as you stand back up. Focus on tighening your abs as you inhale, and relax them as you exhale.
To work out your arms, hold your arms out straight in front of you as you lower yourself, and bring them back down to your sides as you straighten.
- These last exercises are a bit more demanding on your body and work out multiple muscles groups along with your abs to build up overall strength and build your muscle strength which also helps in shedding some of that baby weight.
Only one question remains- Are you ready to get your abs and core back into shape or are you going to settle for back pain? Your baby won’t be the only thing people will be noticing!