Postpartum Recovery| Core Strengthening | Pelvic Floor Recovery Tips
Our bodies go through so much during pregnancy and postpartum. While the womb is growing, our abdominals naturally have to separate and the Linea Alba (the tissue that runs down the middle of the abdominals) stretches to make room for baby! It's a remarkable thing. Yet it can also cause irreversible damage to our abdominals if we don't focus on core breathing/ proper gentle exercises leading up to birth and afterwards. Whether you're newly postpartum, have struggled with core engagement/ strength for years, or are simply looking to strengthen your abdominal wall the right way, this article is for you.
At 6 weeks postpartum, I had a 1.5 finger gap of ab separation and had to slowly and patiently recover my core. These tips are how I achieved just that.
TIP #1 - BREATH WORK IS EVERYTHING
This may sound shocking, but abdominal healing and abdominal strength are truly achieved via breath-work. It's fairly mundane to get on the floor and do these exercises, and yes they are fairly simple--but having a strong core truly comes down to your breath and how you are engaging it while exercising. Some of my favorite SIMPLE moves that are truly transformative are:
PELVIC TILTS-- LAY on back and inhale as you tilt your pelvis away from you, then exhale as you draw your pelvis into the floor and up towards your heart. Repeat for 5 mins.
BRIDGES-- LAY on back, feet planted and knees bent. Inhale BEFORE you lift your hips up to the sky, exhale as you lift the pelvis to the sky and engage your glutes, abdominals and hamstrings. Close the ribcage. Repeat for 5 mins.
TABLETOP BREATHING- set yourself on hands and knees. Find a neutral spine. From there, drop belly and inhale while spine in alignment, then exhale and draw belly button inwards.
TIP #2 - STAY AWAY FROM ADVANCED ABDOMINALS (for a while)
I KNOW, I KNOW --- when you get the all clear from the doctor you want to rush straight to the gym! I did too.... But be wary, crunches and advanced planks can do more harm than good when you just went through so many physical changes. Start SLOW, start with these three simple exercises, and stay far away from crunching until you've seen a physical therapist who can confirm that you have no more ab separation and can progress to more challenging abdominal work.
"Thanks to you and your prenatal training/ breathwork leading up to birth, I had such a fantastic birth experience and ZERO ab separation after a couple weeks! " – TRAVELFIT PRIVATE CLIENT
Tip #3 - TRANSVERSE ABDOMINALS
Your obliques are KEY to helping your abs come back together and restrengthen. Focusing on your transverse abdominals (the ones on the side) will help your middle abdominals as well.
Exercises to incorporate: Modified side planks (on your knees), Side Lying Ball Squeezes on the Floor (as demonstrated in my on demand library classes) Side lying holds
Tip #4 - KEEP CONSISTENT
Results don't happen overnight. It honestly took me 6 or 7 months to be fully able to do advanced abdominals again! It takes some others only a few weeks, or some even longer. Every single body is different and has a different journey. I had to tell myself to be incredibly patient during the postpartum period as a fitness trainer. I was disheartened by that length of time and how long it took me to see my core back to "normal" (as normal as it can be after an emergency C section) But after 4 months of breath-work, careful core breathing exercises, and my prenatal program, I began to close my gap of separation and be able to see my abdominals strengthen again. Only after significant dedication to my healing and patience was I able to progress to harder exercises around month 7.
Want to hear more about prenatal/postpartum fitness or want to take a safe class that incorporates these exercises?
Head to the on demand library and the PRE/POST NATAL CHANNEL or get in touch about private sessions with Kayley at email@example.com.