Proven Exercises to Tone Abs after Childbirth
What Pregnancy does to your Stomach
Under the influence of the hormone relaxin, the abdominal muscles stretch tremendously in all directions to accommodate the growing fetus inside your uterus. The muscle’s connective tissue themselves have a degree of elasticity but the main changes occur in the linea alba. The linea alba is a white fibrous structure of collagen that runs down the middle of your abdomen, connecting the two rectus muscles. By increasing the water content of collagen fibres of the connective tissue, relaxin increases the elasticity of the linea alba that enables the rectus muscles to stretch apart as your uterus grows. Your waistline may increase up to 20 inches and the rectus may lengthen by 18 inches. The rectus muscles, which previously lay parallel, may split down your abdomen like a seam, a common occurrence called diastatsis recti, which is experienced by 66% of pregnant women by their third trimesters.
When can I start Exercising?
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, you can ease into light exercises a few days after delivery. But your health provider may advice you wait for 6 weeks until your first return check up to see how you’re doing. As a general rule, if you exercised throughout pregnancy and had a normal vaginal delivery, you can walk, do modified push-ups and crunches a few days within giving birth for at least 3 times a week.
If you had a C-section, expect to wait 6 to 8 weeks to exercise. Walking, though, is advised as soon as possible.
Exercise is good for you and has many benefits if done properly and at the right time. It can do more harm than good if done too early or too intensely after birth. Don’t overdo your routines; take your time to enjoy motherhood and keeping yourself and your baby healthy.
The Best way to Recondition my Abs
In toning your abdomen, the goal is to strengthen the abdominal and core muscles and get them to work together. The core should be the first focus because if they are not strong enough when you’re doing abdominal crunches, your stomach may bulge some more.
Another critical element is maintaining dynamic stability. This refers to the ability to maintain proper body alignment and position when exercising. Because you have loose joints and weakened abs after pregnancy, it is not unusual for your body to go out of alignment. When your body is not properly aligned, your muscles will not function properly which in turn renders exercises ineffective. Thus, you will need to use your abdominal muscles; push them back against your spine to support proper body alignment when exerting.
The Scissor Kick is a stretching exercise that strengthens your abdominal area, improve posture, and reduce post-pregnancy back aches. It has an isolation mechanic type as it tones one muscle group at a time. Lie flatly on the floor with your legs straight. With your arms extended fully at your side, palms down, alternatively raise your legs at a 45 degree angle to the floor. Repeat 10 times.
Lying on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, your arms extended palms down, take a deep breath and as you exhale tilt your pelvis upward and press your lower back against the floor by contracting your lower abdominal muscles and buttocks. Tighten it for 5 seconds then release and repeat the process.
Lie on your back, knees bent, with bent elbows, prop yourself up. Raise your legs off the floor bent at the knees. Alternatively make pedalling motions as you would pedal a bicycle. Do 10 circles for each forward and backward direction.
This pose is used for all-over abdominal strengthening exercise. Start by sitting on the floor. Take a deep breath; inhale, exhale. As you inhale again draw your torso forward until your arms are perpendicular to the floor. Keep your arms in line with your shoulders and your knees in line with your hips. The pose should look like the top of a push up. Press your arms inward; firm your fingers on the floor, point them forward. Firm your shoulders against your back and spread your collar bones away from your breast bone. Contract your thighs upward and contract your abdominal muscles towards your spine. Maintain proper body alignment. Hold this position for up to 1 minute, release then repeat.
The cat pose gently tones your abdomen. Start on your hands and knees, keeping the aligned and perpendicular to the floor. As you arch your back upward, contract your abdominal muscles and firm your hands against the floor. Gently drop your head and look down toward your feet. Hold for a few seconds, release then repeat.
Do leg slides to tone your abdominal and leg muscles. Lie flat on your back with your knees slightly bent. Inhale and slide or extend one leg. Contract your abs buttocks and pelvic floor muscles as you extend your leg. Exhale, return to starting position. Repeat 5 times per leg.
On your back with knees slightly bent and your spine in a neutral alignment, tighten your abdominal muscles and slowly raise your pelvis upward until your hips align with your shoulders and knees. Hold for 3 seconds and slowly lower down. Repeat 5 times.
Lie on your back with knees flexed and feet about 12 inches from your buttocks. Arms can be either be extended along your body or placed across your chest. Take a deep breath, touch your chin to your chest and raise your trunk until your elbows touch your thighs. Hold this position for 5 seconds and slowly lower back down. Repeat 5 times.
Start on your hands and knees with your arms slightly extended away from your shoulders and your knees parallel to your hips. Tighten your abdominal muscles, stiffen your torso and lower your body down to the floor by bending your elbows. Straighten your elbows to push yourself back up. Repeat 10 to 12 times.