I realize that I touched on the subject a few weeks back, but I think it’s a topic that deserves further discussion! As we approach the addition of our Intro Reformer class for new moms, I want to add a little more to what I said previously (which was primarily about prenatal, so there you go). It’s not secret that pregnancy does a number on your body. If you are a regular worker-outer prior to pregnancy, then you’re in luck because you definitely have a leg-up when it comes to regaining your pre-baby body after giving birth. But don’t despair if your not the biggest exercise fan, we’ll get you on track. 🙂
Depending on genetics, your diet, and exercise regimen prior to and during pregnancy, any woman’s post-plan can look extremely different. The one constant among all the plans, though, is the necessity for extra emphasis on core work. During pregnancy the abdominal muscles get severely stretched. Thankfully the female body is built for this, and there is a good amount of elasticity in the muscles effected by your growing belly. However, most are still effected by a difficulty in regaining strength in the area, so special exercises are called to attention just for new moms!
Though you may be eager to get started after having the baby, you will want to ease back into a routine, especially if during pregnancy you developed any separation of the abs, also known as diastsis recti. You can do a check on yourself or have your doctor help you screen for this separation. Some separation is normal and usually closes as you heal. A more than 2 finger width is of concern, and you should then seek out physical therapists that specialize in working with the condition, which can, by the way happen in both men and women.
General recommendation for exercise after giving birth is 6-8 weeks. However, it’s ideal
to have clearance from you doc or physical therapist to resume activity as they’ll know the conditions of your body – your health history, whether you delivered normally, had a C-section, or experienced any problems during pregnancy.
When pregnant much of the weight shifts forward, and for that reason, your posture may have settled into position where your lower back has a greater curve than normal, arching, and putting a lot of pressure on that area of the spine. Additionally hormonal changes have created a laxity in the ligaments of the body, so stability is an issue. Here are 2 exercises that can help kick start the core for strength and support now that you’ve got the little one – or maybe more than one – to carry around.
The Hundred, modified. I’m a huge fan of the Hundred for building core strength. But post-baby, because of the reasons mentioned above, most new moms may find it a difficult to do a full version. The key here is to find the neutral position (on your back with knees bent and feet down, hip-width apart and parallel), allowing only a small space under the curve of your lower back. The pelvis remains level – hip bone and pubic bone should be parallel to the ground. Engage the core, drawing the belly button inward and upward. This should help you engage the transverses and pelvic floor muscles. Float the right leg up, still bent, until your knee is over your hip. Hold the leg there as you cycle thru 5 breaths paying close attention to maintaining the neutral position from your abs. Lower the leg with control and repeat on the other side.
Shoulder Bridge. Lie on your back in neutral as described above. Fire up the abdominals
and begin curling your pelvis so that the tailbone points upward and “peel” the spine away from the floor as you lift your hips up. Keep the weight even on your feet and avoid rolling your knees outside the frame of your hips. Think about looking like a long straight slope from knee to shoulder, hips nice and open, weight across your shoulder blades. This is great work for your hamstrings and glutes while still focusing on the abs. As you roll down, draw the pelvic floor upward as you control the spine sequentially back down into neutral.
As you get back into working out, don’t be hard on yourself!! Regaining strength and stability of pre-baby will take time. For more, check out our Intro Reformer for New Moms class debuting on the schedule this June! If you’re out of town, please email me with any further questions and I’d be happy to provide some tips. 🙂