I’d love to talk about a question I get often from my patients who have had kids. This is a question that seems to be fairly common, and very hard to find good advice on when you look online. The question is, “When can I exercise my abs after I have a baby?”
This question has been asked by patients 2 weeks after baby, 6 weeks, 6 months, and even onward to a year. I’ve had an array of information sent to me, brought to me, or told to me. Of the most common I’ve had a series of patients saying there were told, “Keep doing your kegels,” or “You won’t be able to get back to Cross Fit or running after having a baby,” or even, ” don’t do core exercises after you have a baby because it’s going to separate your stomach.”
My answer to these questions? Not every woman needs to do kegels, especially if they have some kind of tightness or trigger points in their pelvic floor. It is absolutely incorrect to say you will never get back to heavy lifting or distance running. It’s actually ridiculous. You will get back, you just have to do it correctly. Lastly, you need to work your core after a baby to prevent separation and also to support your spine.
Please understand, this is not medical advice. You should most certainly see a pelvic floor PT if you have specific questions to your case. But with my experience, after you spend the 6 weeks letting your body heal after having a baby, have been released to start having intercourse again, and you have been cleared by your OBGYN to perform exercise again, then work your damn core too! You cannot expect a full body improvement or any chance of getting back to your pre-baby body if you do not work the entirety of your body, including your core.
Your core needs to be strong before, during, and after pregnancy. There are a variety of ways to re-introduce core exercise after you give birth. You want to start with light introduction of exercise such as learning how to contract your transversus abdominis, then progressing towards supine (on your back) exercises for the core such as dead bugs, then progress into quadruped. There are SO many ways to perform safe and appropriate core exercise. The following are just a few to get you started.
Transversus Abdominis Contraction
-Start lying on your back. Place your fingers on your hip bones (the pointy spots in the front) and slide towards your belly button and down a little bit. Press in gently. Now, draw your belly button towards the bed/floor/table and feel for movement under your fingers. Make sure you are able to breathe, do not utilize your upper stomach, or roll your hips.
Bent knee leg raise.
-First start by doing the above contraction. Then lift one knee at a time while controlling your core contraction from above. Bring back to neutral and try the other leg. Once this becomes easy, you can progress to the second picture and do both legs. Make sure you maintain your entire spine flat on the ground while performing the knee lifts.
Dead Bug Exercise.
-Perform the double bent knee leg raise from above, then lift your arms straight up towards the ceiling. You will straighten one leg at the same time you move one straight arm above your head. Then you alternate. Continue to maintain your spine against the ground and make sure you are breathing.
-Once you are able to your transversus abdominis contraction appropriately in supine, try in quadruped. This time you will be against gravity. Be mindful of your neck position and not to arch your back. Then you will straighten one arm in front of you, then extend or straighten a leg behind you. Alternate. Keeps your spine from arching and do not rotate.
After you are cleared from your OBGYN to have intercourse, to exercise, and are having no other issues, you can begin light exercise. Of course, don’t expect yourself to be ready to heavy weight lifting or high level running right after having a baby. Give yourself time to heal. Let yourself listen to your body. You will make progress and get back to where you want to be!
Let me know if you have questions or comments.
Also, day 13 has been great. Focused and feeling good! I completed both workouts, the one from yesterday, and the one from today. That way I haven’t missed any!
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