How is it already December!? As I always say, time is flying and it is even more apparent when you’re raising a baby who changes overnight at times! First, I want to say THANK YOU to everyone who reached out and/or commented regarding my Body After Baby post. It is very reassuring to know that I’m not alone in my feelings and that there are probably good reasons why our bodies hold on to some extra fat after baby to sustain breastfeeding. Not to mention – I’ve got plenty of time to lose the weight and I’m probably being a tad impatient. These are all things I basically knew, but hearing it from you guys made it easier to swallow. I have already made some great changes to my diet and exercise in the last week (more on that later) and I’m already feeling SO much better. I also ordered some leggings and bought a few sweaters in a larger size so I can survive the winter feeling cute and comfy (I’m thankful I’m not going back to my office job for a while!).
I started the first part of this blog post a few weeks (er….a month!?) before my 6 week postpartum check-up, where I was cleared to exercise and then it got so long that I had to make it two parts…and then life got in the way! My OB-GYN had told me in the hospital that I was fine to walk and do some light yoga moves before the 6 week appointment, given how active I was leading up to Siena’s birth. Around 4 weeks postpartum I started doing the pelvic floor exercise DVD I wrote about in part one of this blog post and also some postpartum friendly core exercises from Moms Into Fitness.
We all know that we’re not supposed to do crunches during pregnancy, but I think a lot of people don’t realize that it’s not a good idea to jump right back into crunching after pregnancy either. A lot of damage was done to our abdominal muscles, not to mention they are pretty weak since we haven’t been doing ab work for nearly 9 months! Before starting ANY workout program after baby, not just an ab workout, be sure to have your doctor check you for diastasis recti at your 6 week appointment (or check yourself using this video if you already had your appointment and didn’t ask).
Diastatis recti is the separation of the right and left halves of the rectus abdominis muscle and affects about 30% of pregnant and postpartum women. It is measured in finger widths and if you have separation 2 finger widths or more, you’ll have to do special exercises to get it back into place. If you jump into exercises like crunches, planks, and push-ups, you’ll just make it worse. Learn more about it here. I was pretty sure I did not have separation but I had my doctor check and she told me that I only had a fingertip of separation and was fine to continue with normal exercises.
No matter what the condition of your abs post baby, it’s smart not to dive in quickly. It’s important to first work your transverse abdominus, the inner layer, before working the outer layer (which is what crunches are for). At about four weeks post-partum I found Moms Into Fitness YouTube videos. Lindsay Brin, a certified personal trainer and pre and post natal expert, designed her Moms Into Fitness videos to be quick and efficient. I haven’t tried any of the other videos outside of the ab series but I would definitely give it a try!
I started with Lindsay’s Postnatal Core #1 workout (8 minutes long) and then advanced to Postnatal Slimdown Core #2 (8 minutes) once I felt comfortable with the moves in number 1. The moves are all very subtle and focus on the inner abdominal muscles.Now i’ve moved on to Postnatal Slimdown Core #3 (7 minutes). I love the videos because they are simple and short so I can fit them easily during naps. They don’t require any equipment and are FREE! The Core #1 workout includes modifications for diastasis recti (the others aren’t safe for it however).
These videos were also helpful for making my own modifications in the yoga classes I’ve taken postpartum. In the hot yoga class, there is a bicycle ab exercise that I knew without even trying would be too intense for me. Instead, I did some of the moves I learned in the YouTube videos and I was confident that I was doing them correctly. You can’t always trust instructors to know how to modify for pre and postpartum workouts so it’s great to have some knowledge before stepping into class so you don’t end up doing more damage than good!
What is your favorite core workout? If you’ve been pregnant, how long did it take you to get your core strength back?