During pregnancy, our bodies endure a lot. Just about every part of the pregnant body sees change, and the core is not spared. While it’s completely normal to experience a variety of changes, many women are often unsure of how to prevent more severe issues or work through changes during pregnancy. In this post we’ll go over not just postpartum core exercises but why the core is important and how to regain strength.
What is the Core?
The core is the center of our body. Our abdominal muscles, pelvic floor, and back muscles make up the core. When most people think of the core, they usually think of the abdominal muscles like the deep core (transverse abdominis), “6-pack” abs like the rectus abdominis, and the obliques.
Why the Core is Important
The core helps to keep our trunk stable when we move our arms and legs. It helps to support the low back and pelvis to prevent pain and injury. As baby grows, the muscles of the core stretch to accommodate the growing baby. The core not only supports everyday movement and function, but is important for a variety of reasons:
- Supports the trunk when we lift or kick something
- Helps to stabilize our hips during movement
- Works together with the pelvic floor to prevent issues
- Prevent low back pain by supporting the spine
- Aesthetic Reasons
- Maintaining good posture
Your Core Postpartum
Your core postpartum may look and feel a lot different than it did prior to pregnancy and during pregnancy. Some women experience diastasis recti as the tissues of the abdominal muscles stretch. Many describe their core as feeling “squishy” or “mushy” postpartum. Because of the changes to your core postpartum, it’s common to feel less stable or strong as you move. It can make it difficult to return to your normal activity level.
Postpartum Core Exercises
Early Postpartum: Birth- 2 weeks
- Diaphragmatic/ 360 Breathing: Focus on returning to deep breathing to help coordinate your pelvic floor, core, and diaphragm. Focus on long, slow inhales to fill the belly with air and expand your ribcage as you’re breathing in. Slowly exhale and repeat 5-10 times 2-3 times per day.
- Pelvic Tilts: Laying on your back, feel for the natural arch and gap between the floor and your back. As you exhale, flatten your back against the floor or bed. Hold for 3-5 seconds. Repeat 5-10 times
- Posture: Work on find a neutral posture whenever you can. This will actually make your core muscles work in a functional way to help hold you up. Think about shoulders over hips, ears in line with the shoulders and chin slightly tucked.
- Deep Core Engagement: Whenever your lifting baby or something heavier than a couple of pounds, gently draw the belly button towards your spine.
2-6 Weeks Postpartum
- Quadruped Cat/ Cows
- Deep Core Engagement in Bird Dog
- Heel Slides with Deep Core
- Mini Crunches
- Toe Taps with Deep Core Engagement
- Single Leg Lowers
- Planks (modified or standard)
- Incorporate Gentle Rotation Movement
12+ Weeks Postpartum
- Double Leg Lowers
- Planks and Side Planks
- Seek Guidance from a specialist to work towards your normal workout exercises.