After giving birth, many women may be eager to tone their abdominal muscles and regain their pre-pregnancy shape. However, it is important to approach ab workouts postpartum with caution to prevent injury and promote healing. In this article, we will discuss when you can start ab workouts after giving birth and what types of exercises are safe and recommended.
The postpartum period is a time of recovery and adjustment for new mothers. After giving birth, the abdominal muscles undergo significant stretching and separation during pregnancy and childbirth. Additionally, the hormone relaxin, which helps loosen ligaments and joints during pregnancy and childbirth, remains present in the body for several weeks after birth, making it easier to overstretch or injure oneself if not careful.
When to Start Ab Workouts
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that postpartum women wait until at least six weeks after delivery before starting an exercise program that includes abdominal workouts. This allows the body time to heal and recover from childbirth.
However, it is important to note that every woman’s body is different and recovery times can vary. Women who have had more complicated deliveries or c-sections may need to wait longer before starting an exercise program. It is always recommended to consult with your healthcare provider before starting any exercise program.
Types of Ab Exercises
In the early postpartum period, gentle exercises such as pelvic tilts and transverse abdominal contractions are recommended. Pelvic tilts involve lying on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, then tilting your pelvis forward and backward while engaging your core muscles. Transverse abdominal contractions involve drawing your navel toward your spine while gently contracting your abdominal muscles.
As the body continues to heal, women can gradually add other low-impact exercises such as planks, side planks, and bird dogs. These exercises can help strengthen the abdominal muscles while also engaging other muscle groups.
It is important to avoid traditional crunches or sit-ups in the early postpartum period, as these exercises can place too much stress on the abdominal muscles and potentially worsen diastasis recti (abdominal separation).
Tips for Safe Ab Workouts Postpartum
Here are some tips for safe ab workouts postpartum:
Begin with gentle exercises and gradually increase intensity and duration over time.
Listen to your body:
Pay attention to any discomfort or pain during exercise and adjust accordingly. If something doesn’t feel right, stop and consult with your healthcare provider.
Maintain good posture:
Proper posture can help prevent injury and promote optimal alignment of the spine and pelvis.
Engage pelvic floor muscles:
Regular pelvic floor exercises can help improve core strength and support the abdominal muscles.
Avoid high-impact exercises:
High-impact exercises such as jumping or running can place too much stress on the abdominal muscles and worsen diastasis recti.
Wear supportive clothing:
A supportive nursing bra and comfortable, breathable clothing can help provide support and comfort during exercise.
Drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise to stay hydrated.
Remember that it takes time and patience to regain abdominal strength and tone after pregnancy.
Starting ab workouts postpartum should be approached with caution and under the guidance of a healthcare provider. It is recommended to wait at least six weeks postpartum before beginning ab workouts and to start with gentle exercises such as pelvic tilts and transverse abdominal contractions. Gradually add other low-impact exercises such as planks, side planks, and bird dogs as the body continues to heal. Remember to listen to your body, maintain good posture, engage pelvic floor muscles, avoid high-impact exercises, wear supportive clothing, stay hydrated, and practice patience. With patience, persistence, and proper technique, you can safely and effectively regain abdominal strength and tone after pregnancy.