Postpartum exercises are very important to healing and correcting the ab separation that is natural during pregnancy. Many mothers are sent home from the hospital with a sheet of simple exercises with little explanation.
As new research and expertise develops in the field of postpartum recovery, new exercises emerge as the top exercises you can do at home to help you heal your mommy pooch. Here at Milk Dust, we encourage healing postpartum through supporting your body with proper nutrition. We also believe firmly in a well-rounded approach to healing that involves caring for your body through healing and corrective movements. Correcting diastasis recti isn’t the full store of getting rid of the mommy pooch. Much of the pooch is also losing weight while breastfeeding, which we have an in-depth post on how to do that as well.
What is Diastasis Recti?
Before we get started on the moves to correct diastasis recti, it is important to fully understand what it is. During pregnancy, the ab muscles separate to allow room for the growing uterus and baby. After the baby is born, breastfeeding stimulates the uterus to contract back to its normal size. As the uterus contracts, the ab muscles can come back together as well. This process takes time, and it is normal to have separation in the first few months of the fourth trimester. During this time, there are some amazing exercises you can do to help repair the ab separation and encourage them to come back together.
Multiple pregnancies means you need these exercises even more:
Having multiple pregnancies causes the thin tissue or fascia that holds your abs together to weaken. Because the fascia gets stretched it isn’t able to hold your abdominal muscles together as closely. Without the extra pull of the mesh between your inner abs, there can be a remaining pooch after multiple babies. This can be rectified to a smaller gap with continuous posture and exercise work, and it is most beneficial to do these in the beginning.
The Top 5 Postpartum Abdominal Exercises To Close The Gap
Standing Vacuum Breaths:
It is very important to practice these vacuum breaths while standing because standing is a functional position. Start by standing with feet shoulder-width apart and relaxed shoulders. Take a deep breath in, and as you exhale pull your abs in as far as you can and hold. Hold as long as you before taking another inhale. Relax on the inhale, pull your abs in on the exhale. Make sure you are filling your lungs in your rib cage with air when you inhale. Perform 10-20 of these every morning. You can do them in the shower or while watching TV.
Pelvic tilts are very helpful to retraining the abdominal muscles to come back together. Start by lying on your back with knees bent and feet shoulder-width apart. Let your arms lie next to your sides. Take a deep breath in, then as you exhale, pull your abs in and tuck your pelvis in. Think of zipping up your abs and hold. Then relax your pelvis back down as you inhale again. The key is to contract your abs as you exhale on all the moves. Do 10-20 of these every morning.
After your pelvic tilts, while still lying on your back, slide one heel out, so your leg is straight. This is done on the exhale. Inhale as you bring your heel back in. While you exhale and extend the other heel, pull your abs in and control your pelvis. You can use a towel or wear socks to make the heel slide easier. Do 10 slides on each leg.
Continuing on your back, after your heel slides, you can go right into bridges. Start exactly as you are doing a pelvic tilt, but as you tilt bridge your hips up into the air and hold there. You can inhale at the top, keeping your hips up, then exhale, pull your abs in and slowly bring your body back down, one vertebrae at a time. Moving slowly back down allows you to practice controlling the movement with your abs. This is reinforcing the mind-muscle connection that is essential for repair.
Posture Work Against Wall:
For this exercise, you want to go back to standing and use a wall to help. Learning proper posture again after baby arrives is really important to strengthening the abs. When standing against the wall, slide your heels back so they are touching the wall, Roll your shoulders back to touch the wall as well. Pull your upper abdominal muscles in, but do not tuck your pelvis under. There should be a small gap between the wall and your lower back where there is a natural arch. Practice your vacuum breaths in this position. Make sure the back of your head is back touching the wall as well. During pregnancy and holding a new baby tends to pull our necks and shoulders forward and encourage a slouch and pooch. This helps correct that.
Consistency is key with these exercises.
The only way for these exercises to be truly beneficial is to be done consistently over weeks and months. It was 9 months of stretching, and more if you’ve had more babies. This is a natural trauma to the abs, that requires consistent restorative work. Adding this work into your workout routine as a warm up will bring the best results. If you are newly postpartum, creating a morning routine with these exercises will help repair the separation faster and develop more strength for exercising again after 6 weeks.
Losing fat is also essential to reducing the pooch.
If you don’t lose the extra weight gained during pregnancy, the ab separation will repair, but there will still be a pooch of extra fat and skin. The skin won’t go away, but the fat can, and it is possible to lose weight while breastfeeding. Milk Dust is the perfect protein powder to help you lose the weight and keep up your milk supply.