5 Exercises to Tighten Your Belly After Babies

For all of those moms out there who feel like they are struggling with the post-baby “pooch”, or have been diagnosed with diastasis recti (separated abdominal muscles), it’s time to take control. Besides feeling good about yourself, it’s important to properly strengthen your core muscles to avoid more issues down the road. Diastasis recti can lead to array of other issues, including lower back pain, fecal or urinary incontinence, pain or loss of sensation during intercourse, or even a hernia.


What is Diastasis Recti and Why Does it Happen?
Diastasis recti is a common condition where the abdominal muscles separate. More specifically the Rectus Abdominis, otherwise known as the “6-pack” muscle is the
one that separates. The muscles separate due to the increased force against the abdominal wall. It affects at least 60 percent of postpartum women and is more
frequent after multiple births.


How do I Manage Diastasis Recti?
Here is the good news, STOP doing crunches! When you overload the muscles it can actually make the problem worse. The goal is to strengthen your deep abdominal
muscles, called your Transverse Abdominis. It’s important to start slow, be consistent, and work your way up when you are strengthening your abdominals post-partum.
Here are 5 exercises you should start today and do 5-days a week if you really want to make a difference! Although these exercises may seem basic they will deliver
great results that you will feel it if done properly.


*Note: You can start these exercises as early as one week after a vaginal birth; you need to wait 8-10 weeks after a C-section.

1. Pelvic Tilt

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  •  Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Tilt your pelvis backwards as you press your lower back into the floor and tighten your abdominals. Try to hold it for 5 seconds as you inhale and exhale.
  • Tip: Place your hands on your lower abdomen just inside your hip bones and feel for the muscle contraction below the skin. Using your hands to feel for the contraction will help you know your doing it right.
  • Count: Start with 5-10 repetitions in a session and build up to 20.

 

2. Bent Knee Fall Out

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Perform a gentle pelvic tilt and brace your abdominals while maintaining a slight lumbar curve. One at a time drop your knee out to the side while maintaining a level pelvis. Return to center and repeat on the other side.
  • Tip: Make sure to only drop your knee a few degrees to each side or until you start to feel your pelvis rotate. Again, you can use your hands placed on your hips to help feel if there is any rotation at your pelvis.
  • Count: Start with 5 repetitions on each leg and work up to 15.
Lottie Life_Abs Part 1_Exercise 2a_Bent Knee Fall Out (1).jpg
Lottie Life_Abs Part 1_Exercise 2b_Bent Knee Fall Out.jpg

3. Abdominal Bracing with Heel Slides

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Perform a gentle pelvic tilt and brace your abdominals while maintaining a slight lumbar curve. One at a time slide your heel out in front of you until your leg is nearly straight. Return to a bent knee position and repeat on the other side.
  • Tip: The trick to doing this properly is to maintain a pelvic tilt and keep your abdominals braced throughout the entire motion.
  • Count: Start with 5 repetitions on each leg and work up to 15.

 

4. Abdominal Bracing with Marching

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  •  Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Perform a gentle pelvic tilt and brace your abdominals while maintaining a slight lumbar curve. One at a time lift your leg until it is parallel with the floor maintaining a bent knee position. Return your foot to the floor and repeat on the other side.
  • Tip: The trick to doing this properly is to maintain a pelvic tilt and keep your abdominals braced throughout the entire motion.
  • Count: Start with 5 repetitions on each leg and work up to 15.

 

5. Belly Breathing

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands over your lower rib cage. As you inhale feel your ribcage expand and your belly lift. As you exhale feel your ribcage depress and at the same time the belly depresses as you tighten and brace your abdominals.
  • Tip: As your exhale feel like your abdominals are creating a corset-like feeling around your waist.
  • Count: 10 deep breaths each session.

If you continue to have problems with your abdominals or notice issues with your pelvic floor it is best to contact your doctor. They may refer you to a physical
therapist who specializes in pelvic floor treatment. Stay tuned because we will discuss how to progress your abdominal exercises in the
next blog.

Note about the author: This article was brought to you by Kathryn Lane, Doctorate of Physical Therapy.

Disclaimer: You should consult your physician or other health care professional before starting this or any other fitness program to determine if it is right for your needs. You
should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your
health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional.