Once the baby is born one of the first questions a new mom asks her obstetrician during her first visit is, “when can I start doing exercises?” And for most women, they means specifically abdominal exercises. During the latter stages of pregnancy it is very normal for the rectus abdominus muscle, that muscle that runs down the center of the belly, to separate allowing the abdomen to expand and make room for the growing baby. This isn’t a tearing or a herniation of the muscle but rather a stretching and widening of the connective tissue between the two muscles.
After pregnancy there are several exercises that can be done to bring that muscle back together and make it stronger than ever. But, before doing any exercises for your stomach you must consult with your gynecologist to get medical clearance.
When starting your new exercise program in the postpartum period remembered to start easily and build from there. Don’t believe that you will be able to go back to your old routine quickly. This will only tear muscle, discourage you and cause you to drop the exercise program altogether. Postpartum abdominal exercises can come in several different forms. Traditional exercises, such as sit ups, can put stress on the back and stomach before they are ready to handle the stress. Some physical therapists do not recommend these exercises for new moms but instead recommend a form of rehabilitation for the abdominal muscles.
Before starting an exercise program get medical clearance from your obstetrician. For those who have experienced a normal uncomplicated delivery they can start stretches almost immediately. Women who underwent a cesarean section must wait until bleeding stops and they receive clearance from their physician.
But, abdominal exercises shouldn’t be started before six weeks post-partum and even later with a complicated delivery if your physician recommends. Although you may be excited to start getting back into shape you must give your body time to heal from the experience of pregnancy and that can only be done with time.
You can however start when you are pregnant to exercise your abdominal muscles and lower back to prepare for delivery and the restrengthening of these muscles in the post-partum period. But, you should NEVER do sit ups during your pregnancy, especially after the rectus abdominus muscle has split because you can do significant injury to the muscle so that it doesn’t recover.
Kegel exercises are exercises for the pelvic floor muscles and lower abdominal muscles. They can be done throughout the pregnancy and early in the post-partum period to keep those muscles tight and in control. This will help to with the control of the bladder and can increase the pleasure of orgasms.
The standing pelvic tilt is also an exercise that can be done both during pregnancy and in the early weeks after the delivery. Standing with your back against the wall and feet shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent tip your pelvis toward the wall until the lower back flattens. Tighten the lower abdominal muscles and hold for 5 seconds.