STOP the Crunches!! Many mamas feel the need to jump back into a routine post baby. Always ask your doctor or midwife before starting an exercise program, especially if you have had a caesarean section. It is important to make sure your tummy muscles have healed before you do any vigorous abdominal exercises, such as abdominal crunches.
Many mamas we work with complain about their abs being “flabby” after the baby, so the FITgals always check for an abdominal separation, called diastasis recti, before starting a postnatal routine. Most doctors do not check for this condition, but we recommend you asking them to check during your 6-week postpartum check-up (or ask your midwife, physical therapist, or certified postnatal trainer). Read more about the symptoms and how to self diagnose this condition.
3 EXERCISES TO TONE YOUR MUMMY TUMMY!
GENTLE TUMMY. Begin toning your tummy by performing this exercise to strengthen the deepest muscle layer (transversus abdominus). You can perform this exercise lying down, sitting, standing, or on your hands and knees.
– Keep your lower back flat.
– Breathe out and draw your belly button back towards your spine. Your lower back shouldn’t flex or move.
– Hold this position and breathe lightly. Count to 10.
– Relax and repeat up to 10 times per set.
– Do 10 sets, as many times per day as you can.
LOWER TUMMY. The lower abdominal muscles are located below your belly button. To work these muscles gently, guidelines include; Make sure your abdominal muscles have healed. Until the gap is closed, only perform the ‘gentle tummy exercise’ option above.
– Lie on your back with your knees bent and both feet flat on the floor.
– Contract your abdominal muscles.
– Slowly slide your feet away from you, aiming to straighten both legs. The idea is to straighten the legs without arching your lower back. As your lower abdominal muscles get stronger, you’ll be able to slide your feet further and further away.
– If your back starts to arch, stop and slide your feet back towards your bottom.
– Aim for 10 repetitions per set. Perform around three sets per session.
KEGEL EXERCISES. The pelvic floor muscles are tightly slung between the tailbone (coccyx) and the pubic bone, and support the bowel, bladder, uterus (womb) and vagina. To exercise them, you must first direct your attention to these muscles. To help you identify these muscles, they are the ones that you tighten to stop urinating. These exercises can be performed lying down, sitting or standing.
– Try to relax your abdominal muscles. Don’t bear down or hold your breath.
– Gradually squeeze and increase the tension until you have contracted the muscles as hard as you can.
– Release gently and slowly. Then perform the exercises, which include:
– Squeeze slowly and hold for between five and 10 seconds. Release slowly. Repeat 10 times.
– Perform quick, short and hard squeezes. Repeat 10 times.
– Squeeze, then clear your throat or cough lightly. Repeat three times. Aim for five or six sets each day.
I know these exercises seem simple but they are VERY VERY IMPORTANT to fixing the “mummy tummy!” Work at your own pace and don’t feel pressure to start a routine that you are not ready for!