Most women are concerned with reshaping their newly formed ‘pooch’ after delivery. You know 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 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.
- Life flat on your back.
- Bend your knees.
- Place fingers of your left hand palm facing you above your belly button.
- Upon exhaling, lift your head and shoulders off floor while sliding your right hand up your thigh toward your knee.
Feel your abdominal muscles tighten. As you do so, check for a gap between edges of 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 best exercises for restoring shape and flexibility to your stomach muscles:
Leg Slide This exercise can generally be started during first month post partum. You can do it while sitting on floor watching your baby.
- Lie on your back with knees bent.
- Tighten your stomach muscles while pressing small of your back against floor, exhaling as you do so.
- Slide both your legs apart, so that they are moving away from your body. At same time, keep your back flat on floor.
- Return your legs to start position when your back starts to arch.
- Repeat 5-10 times.
It is important that you pay close attention to your breathing during leg slide, and tighten your stomach muscles before your slide your legs away from your body. Also pay attention to be sure small of your back is pressed against ground.