When you have just had a baby, it can be the most wonderful time – you’ve waited nine months for the arrival of your little one and are spending every moment where you aren’t feeding and changing them admiring the little bundle of joy you’ve created! However, that’s not to say that being a new mother doesn’t come with it’s fair share of worries. One of the most common questions that millions of new mothers have around the world is ‘when can I get my post-baby body back?’
Every woman’s body is different, and some new mothers may find that their post-baby bellies tend to stick around for much longer than they might like. There are, of course, a range of different post-pregnancy belly exercises that can help you get back to what you recognize.
Before we begin, be sure that you aren’t trying to do an intense work out straight after coming home from the hospital – when attempting any form of cardiovascular exercise, it’s best to give your body around six weeks to recover if you had a vaginal delivery, and upwards of eight weeks recovery time if you delivered your baby via C-section.
Once you are ready to exercise again, take it slow! You can’t get straight back into your old workout routines. Instead, try some of the exercises below…
The guideline is to wait up to 9 weeks after giving birth to get back in the pool (to avoid infection), but when the time comes, swimming is a great way to get fit!
Swimming lengths is effective by itself, but why not also consider signing up for some local pool fitness classes? Some leisure centers and gymnasiums may even run specialized post-baby pool fitness classes so that you can get your pre-pregnancy body back and make new mom friends at the same time!
Possibly the first exercise you can get back into after giving birth is walking. Start by taking walks around the block each day (with your new baby, of course!), and gradually lengthen your walks as time goes on. Don’t try to go too far at first, as your body may still need a little time to recover, but work up to taking a long, brisk walk each day.
Walking is obviously very good for your legs, but it’s still effective across your entire body. If you’re looking for a way to get back into exercising but don’t want to over-do it at first, walking is certainly a good way to ease yourself back in.
Yoga is great for the body, but it’s also great for the mind, making it an ideal form of exercise after pregnancy to help you achieve a flat stomach once again.
Many health and fitness centers offer yoga classes for new mothers (some even ask that you bring your baby along!), but there are plenty of post-partum yoga routines available online if you aren’t quite ready to get back into group exercise.
Home Workout (No Equipment)
If you’re wanting to take on some targeted exercise within the comfort of your own home, then put on your workout gear, grab a yoga mat and try out some of these post-pregnancy belly exercises to help reduce your stomach after delivery.
Again, it’s best not to attempt these exercises until around 6-8 weeks after giving birth, but feel free to practice this routine a couple of times a week afterwards.
- Wall Sit
We’ve all done one of these before. Lean against a wall with your back and hips, with your legs in front of you. Slowly begin to lower yourself down the wall until your legs are bent into a 90° angle. Be sure to keep your core engaged as you do this, drawing in your abs so that they are tight. Hold your position for five seconds, then slide back up the wall into your starting position. Repeat this up to twenty times, or for as many as you feel comfortable.
- Pelvic Tilt
Take two scatter cushions and lie on your back with your legs bent. Place one of the cushions between your knees and another under your hips. Keeping your arms at your side and your feet flat on the floor, inhale deeply, then exhale, making sure to draw your abs in as you do. Tuck your pelvis in and squeeze your buttocks in, holding this position for five seconds. Release, then repeat ten times.
- Pelvic Bridge
You’ve most likely performed a similar move during an exercise or yoga class, but this one is slightly modified for women who have recently given birth.
Lie on your back with your feet hip-width apart and your knees bent, then slowly bring your pelvis upwards so that you are in a classic bridge position. Keep your core engaged as you do this. Hold the position for two seconds, then lower your pelvis again slowly. Repeat ten times if you feel comfortable to do so.
- Flat Belly Fly
Lie on your back with your feet hip-width apart, then bend your legs and lift them (one after the other) so that your calves are at a 90° angle. Put a hand on your stomach and keep the other arm, palm down, by your side. Pull your stomach muscles in and you inhale and exhale, holding this position. Slowly open your legs as wide as you can, then slowly close them – use your hand to check your core remains engaged as you do this. Repeat this ten times, then slowly bring your legs down and relax.
- Light Crunches
We all know how to do crunches, but you should modify them slightly if incorporating them into a post-partum exercise routine. Don’t contract your muscles any more than you feel comfortable and certainly reduce the number of crunches you may have done pre-pregnancy during a workout.
Once you have eased yourself back in to using crunches as a part of your workout routine and are comfortable with the lesser amount, begin to increase the amount of crunches every few days. However, if you notice any lingering aches and pains as a result of this, be sure to backtrack a little – you’ll be able to get back eventually, and it’s more important to be sure you do it in a way that is safe for you.
- Towel Pulses
Take a towel and lie on your back, with your knees bent. Wrap the towel at the front of your legs, so that you are holding both ends. Keeping your legs in place, use the towel to pull your upper body away from the ground, so that your shoulders are raised. Keep your core engaged as you do this, and be sure to keep check of how you are breathing. Rather than holding this position, pulse upwards for ten times, then release and relax your position.
Once you feel more comfortable, you may repeat the exercise a few more times per workout session, but be careful not to over-do it. Again, this exercise is a little similar to a crunch, and could cause lingering aches and pains if you attempt to do too much, too quickly.
- Heel Slides
Lie on the floor with your feet hip-width apart and your knees bent. Breathing in and out deeply, engage your core and slide one heel away from your body, moving it forwards and then off the ground so that your leg is only slightly bent. Repeat ten times on each leg, making sure to keep your core engaged as you do.
- Modified Hundred
The Hundred is a movement performed in Pilates, usually with your feet raised off the ground. However, as this could be too strenuous in the first few months after giving birth, it is best to stick to this modified version which keeps your feet flat on the ground.
Lie flat on your back with your feet hip-width apart and your knees bent, arms flat at your sides. Engage your core, then raise your shoulders slightly off the ground, along with your arms, still with palms facing down and fingers pointed towards your feet. Inhale deeply, hold your breath and your position for two seconds, then slowly exhale as you lower yourself back against the floor. Repeat up to ten times, for as many as you feel comfortable.
- Leg Raises
Lie on your back with your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Keeping your arms at your side and your core engaged, slowly raise one leg. Make a small circle with the raised leg ten times clockwise, then ten times anti-clockwise. Lower your raised leg slowly, then slowly raise your other leg to repeat. If you can, do this up to three times on each leg, but only if you feel comfortable to do so.
Remember that with exercises like this, the secret is to keep your core engaged throughout. Of course, this is extremely difficult after you have recently given birth, but that’s what this routine is all about – doing as much as you feel comfortable with and building up your core strength little by little, until you get your pre-pregnancy body back!