Mums often ask me how soon they can start exercising after having their babies and what type of exercises they can do. The answers to these questions are simple:
1) You should not start any strenuous exercise until you have been signed off by your doctor at your six week check-up. This is very important.
2) Regardless of how your baby was born – c-section or natural – you can start to work on your deep abdominal wall muscle straight after the birth.
Important note: strengthening your abdominal wall muscle will not be achieved by doing sit-ups, which is an ineffective way of getting your tummy working again.
In my ‘Natural Tummy Tuck’ classes I teach mums how to train their abdominal wall, working from the inside, to help flatten the abs forever. I have described one of these exercises below – give it a go and let me know how you get on!
Exercise One – ‘Lower Abdominal Series’
The Lower Abdominal Series has four levels of difficulty and I recommend that level one should be attempted in the week after you give birth.
Here’s how you do it:
- Lay on your back, bed your knees, and relax your neck, shoulders and arms. (This is important.)
- Take a deep breath in, using what I call ‘Belly Breathing’. (Inflate the tummy and watch your baby breathe – this is how we should all be breathing!).
- Gently draw your belly button in towards the spine, followed by a small (so you can hardly see movement) pelvic tilt. Contract the pelvic floor and hold this position for 10-20 seconds whilst breathing normally.
- Relax after 10-20 seconds and repeat as many times as possible.
- If you feel your back starting to work STOP. Then rest and come back to the exercise the next day. If your back starts to take the strain, it means your abdominals are tired and it is time to rest. (All you should feel is a small contraction below the belly button, across the lower abdominals and slightly at the sides, which are your internal obliques.)
- Use your mind to move the contraction as low as possible. Unfortunately, due to poor lower abdominals and over-use of sit ups, the upper abdominals can sometimes try and take over.
- The lower abdominals can be lazy and pass on the work to other stronger muscles, so think lower tummy, below belly button only and never forget that pelvic floor.
- Continue to do this exercise for just five minutes per day during the first six weeks following the birth, splitting up into smaller time periods if required.
- Once confident, you can do this exercise whilst you carry out your day-to-day activities. For example, whilst pushing the buggy, changing a nappy or feeding your baby.
Remember, getting your pre-baby figure back is not a race. Some bodies will recover rapidly and some will take a lot longer, so go with it and listen to your body.
Look out for my next blog which describes additional exercises, or get in touch with me for more information.
Written by Vicki Cumberworth