I am asked for advice every week from mothers who have recently given birth and want to help their cores get stronger as soon as possible. Well, the truth is that it will take some time and you have to be patient with yourself. We think it's really important to work with a trained professional when working out after a baby and here's why...
During pregnancy the superficial muscles of the centre are stretched and split outwards to allow the space for your baby bump. Once you give birth this can take some time to return and is know as Diastasis Recti. This is where there is still a small gap between the right and left side. It is entirely normal and should return to normal at any point between giving birth and six months post-partum. Any amount less than two fingers between is considered normal but should any doming occur when exercising you should stop and consult your doctor.
Though you can begin to exercise at nearly your pre-pregnancy ability after your doctor has signed you off, there are a few things to be cautious of....
1. Your breathing and breath control will be different. The diaphragm changes to accommodate the growing belly, affecting breath mechanics and the rib cage slides backward out of the way of the pregnancy resulting in short, shallow chest breaths. This may take a small amount of practice to allow you to feel back to normal when exercising. (See basic breath exercise below)
2. Though you are able to start working on your functional core muscles at this stage (these are the ones you sadly will never be able to see), it is important to steer clear of those that particularly target your upper superficial muscles. Yup, thats your six pack. For the first time in your life, leave them alone. There is plenty of time to fix that and after approx six months is the time. This basically means no exercises that move with a spinal flexion or, in laymens terms, NO CRUNCHES OF ANY KIND.
3. Though this may be super fun, it’s not a good thing that you can do the spilts when you never could before! Your levels of the hormone relaxin will still be high for up to six months after having your baby and possibly longer if you are still breastfeeding. This means that you can easily injure yourself from over stretching so ease off until your hormone levels have returned to normal.
Pelvic floor and breathing - these should be worked on a MINIMUM of twice per day.
As you breath in you should feel the pelvic floor , rib cage and abs open. When you exhale lift the pelvic floor, pull in the abdomen and close the rib cage. Hold for 5 seconds. Work up from 5 to 10 breaths. Your aim is to be able to relax the abdominal muscles without moving her spine.
Pelvic Floor Exercise 1
Slowly engage and draw the pelvic floor up to a count of 5. Then release the muscles for the same number of counts. Repeat this and work up from 5 to 10.
Pelvic Floor Exercise 2
Engage and draw the pelvic floor up in one count, hold for two then release. Repeat this and work up from 5 to 10.
Pelvic Floor Exercise 3
Engage and draw the pelvic floor up in one count. Once you’re engaged try to pulse the muscle five times then return back to a relaxed position. Repeat this and work up from 5 to 10.
In time you will build to your normal strength and you will be smashing workouts in no time. Be patient and kind to yourself. Remember your body has given birth so you're a superhero!
If you want to book onto one of our Mum Fit sessions then head to www.posefitness.co.uk/booking and find your fitness again with our amazing group of Mamas!