Postpartum Exercise – Abdominals And Other Exercises

By: Beverley Brooke

Most women are concerned with reshaping their newly formed `pooch' after delivery. You know the sagging area of skin that used to resemble your stomach?

The good news is you can restore your abdomen to its pre-pregnancy luster, or at least a semblance thereof. It will take a lot of hard work however on your part.

Before you start exercising your abdomen however, it is important that you check for a separation or gap in your stomach muscles. Some women develop a gap in their stomach muscles as a result of the expansion that occurs during pregnancy and labor. It can take anywhere from four to eight weeks for this gap to close.

If you attempt to perform strenuous abdominal exercises prior to this, you may permanently injure your abdomen. So be sure to check before you engage in any stomach exercises.

Here's how:

Feel your abdominal muscles tighten. As you do so, check for a gap between the edges of the muscle. If you have a gap that is more than two or three finger widths, you should perform only moderate exercise.

The gap will eventually narrow to one inch or so, and at this point you can typically safely perform crunches with no adverse effects. If you are having difficulty assessing whether or not your abdomen has a gap, ask your healthcare provider to point it out to you. This is actually a physical condition referred to as diastasis recti (but no need to get technical here!).

Below you'll find some of the best exercises for restoring shape and flexibility to your stomach muscles:

Leg Slide This exercise can generally be started during the first month post partum. You can do it while sitting on the floor watching your baby.

It is important that you pay close attention to your breathing during the leg slide, and tighten your stomach muscles before your slide your legs away from your body. Also pay attention to be sure the small of your back is pressed against the ground.

Pelvic Tilt This is a great exercise for toning and strengthening the stomach, and can be started shortly after delivery.

Standing Pelvic Tilts A variation of the traditional pelvic tilt, you can accomplish this exercise anywhere even on the go!

Head Lifts Consider this exercise a sort of `mini' crunch that you can try if your abdomen is still healing from the trauma of birth.

Seated Lat Rows This exercise actually works to tone the upper arms and back. It is important that you establish balance in your exercise routine. By working out your back muscles in particular, you'll provide extra support for your abdomen. For this exercise you'll need either two light dumbbells or milk containers filled with water.

Straighten arms, repeat 5-10 times.

Push Ups Push ups can be done at any time, even during the first couple of weeks if you are feeling strong enough. Push ups are a great way to help strengthen your upper body, which will need to be strong to carry baby around.

Visit to ensure a healthy pregnancy and for more on postpartum exercise.

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