Post-natal exercise offers a whole range of benefits for new moms. However, it’s important to remember that you should always consult with your doctor before starting up an exercise program. What kind of delivery you had will determine how quick you can resume back to your exercise plan. It’s generally advised that you wait until your six-week post-natal check up.
After childbirth, I was amazed how my once-tight tummy looked like a deflated balloon. Don’t panic, this is normal. Over the next few weeks your uterus will naturally contract back to its pre-pregnancy shape. Breastfeeding will expedite this process, causing the contractions to be stronger and more frequent. However, I must stress that this alone is not enough to get your pre-pregnancy body back. Post-natal exercise will speed up the recovery process and build valuable strength your body needs to keep up with the hectic schedule of caring for your newborn. Be patient with yourself. It may take a few months or possibly longer, depending on how much time you can dedicate to working out.
Caution is required before jumping back into an exercise program, especially with your abdominals. During pregnancy, your abdominals will separate from the added pressure of the baby. This is called diastasis recti.
It’s important that you minimize the separation, allowing the abs to function properly, and also before doing any strenuous abdominal work. Simply perform the following test to gauge your separation.
Lay on your back with your knees bent and your fingers placed above your belly button. Now, lift your head, neck and shoulders off the floor and you will feel if you have a gap in between your abs. If you do feel a gap, measure by fingers the size of the separation. If it is two fingers and above, I recommend you do the following exercise every day before doing any other abdominal exercises. This will train the abdominals back together again, creating a stronger, stable spine.
Towel Abs Exercise
Lay on your back with your knees bent and heels in line with the sit bones (those bony parts you feel under you when you sit). Wrap a towel around your midsection and cross the towel over the abs (holding at each end). Lift your head, neck and shoulders off the floor, exhale and draw your abdominals in toward the spine and pull the towel tight. This will pull the abs together, retraining them in their correct position. Repeat this for 10 times every day and keep monitoring the separation.
Tips to find time to exercise
1.) Buy a daily planner and loosely plan your workouts around your baby’s schedule. For example, in the morning after the first feeding, go for a nice walk with the baby in the stroller. (Start with a flat terrain and then progress to different elevations). Next when the baby goes down for her nap you have can take 15 minutes to do some core conditioning exercises. Yes, it does require willpower, but when you start seeing results this will keep you inspired to do more.