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Postpartum Exercise

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.

Here’s how:

– Life flat on your back.

– Bend your knees.

– Place the fingers of your left hand palm facing you above your belly button.

– Upon exhaling, lift your head and shoulders off the 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 the edges of the 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 the best exercises for restoring shape and flexibility to your stomach muscles:

Leg Slide

This exercise can generally be started during the first month post partum. You can do it while sitting on the floor watching your baby.

– Lie on your back with knees bent.

– Tighten your stomach muscles while pressing the small of your back against the floor, exhaling as you do so.

– Slide both your legs apart, so that they are moving away from your body. At the same time, keep your back flat on the floor.

– Return your legs to the start position when your back starts to arch.

– Repeat 5-10 times.

It is important that you pay close attention to your breathing during the leg slide, and tighten your stomach muscles before your slide your legs away from your body. Also pay attention to be sure the small of your back is pressed against the ground.

Pelvic Tilt

This is a great exercise for toning and strengthening the stomach, and can be started shortly after delivery.

– Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.

– Inhale while allowing your abdomen to expand.

– Upon exhaling lift your tailbone toward your belly button, while keeping your hips on the floor.

– At the very top of the tilt squeeze and tighten your buttocks for five seconds, then slowly release.

– Repeat.

Standing Pelvic Tilts

A variation of the traditional pelvic tilt, you can accomplish this exercise anywhere even on the go!

– Stand with your knees bend and legs hip-width apart.

– Place your hands on your upper thighs while resting your upper body weight on your arms.

– Stick your buttocks out just enough to flatten your back.

– Inhale, and then as you exhale pull your pubic bone toward your navel, pointing the tailbone downward.

– Repeat to a flat back position.

Head Lifts

Consider this exercise a sort of ‘mini’ crunch that you can try if your abdomen is still healing from the trauma of birth.

– Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.

– Be sure your back is pressed to the floor.

– Lift your head off the floor and bring your chin toward your chest.

– Hold this position and then return to start.

Seated Lat Rows

This exercise actually works to tone the upper arms and back. It is important that you establish balance in your exercise routine. By working out your back muscles in particular, you’ll provide extra support for your abdomen. For this exercise you’ll need either two light dumbbells or milk containers filled with water.

– Sit on the edge of a chair.

– Bend knees and keep feet flat on floor.

– Place dumbbells or milk cartons by your feet.

– Bend forward and bring your chest to your thighs, while keeping your back flat.

– Hold one milk carton or dumbbell in each hand, allowing arms to hang down with palms facing one another.

– Bend your elbows and bring them up toward your shoulders.

Straighten arms, repeat 5-10 times.

Push – Ups

Push ups can be done at any time, even during the first couple of weeks if you are feeling strong enough. Push ups are a great way to help strengthen your upper body, which will need to be strong to carry baby around.