3 ways to get a flat tummy back after having a baby
This blog is written by Sheila Bond, a Chartered Physiotherapist with a particular expertise in helping new mothers to get back to full fitness as quickly as possible as well as helping pregnant women reduce the aches and pains of pregnancy. She runs regular Fit for Pregnancy and Fit For Life workshops at The Wellbeing Centre and also sees clients privately.
3 secret tips for you to follow:
- To gain a flat tummy you need to imagine that you are building a house, the most important part is the foundations! Your foundations are the deepest of your abdominal muscles which are part of your core stability muscles. It is important to exercise the deeper abdominal muscle back to full fitness before progressing onto sit ups and working those 6 pack muscles again.
- Muscle toning takes time and you need to do enough repetitions for the muscle to feel tired. Muscle toning takes between 3 and 4 months with regular exercise – so don’t put pressure on yourself for an overnight success! Three sets of 10-15 of each exercise is normally a good guideline.
- Core stability exercises alone are not enough to regain your tummy if you are still carrying some ‘pregnancy weight’. It is important to eat a healthy diet and to do regular cardiovascular exercise that works your heart and lungs. Good example are walking, swimming, cycling and jogging.
What exercises can I do?
Each individual is different and there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. The best people to advice you are specialist physiotherapists that fully understand exercise during and after pregnancy. They are able to guide you through a structured programme of exercise to help you to regain your strength and flatten your tummy.
Why is exercise important?
- The abdomen often remains soft, pendulum-like and poorly toned for many weeks after birth. Unfortunately, there is no magic wand that returns the tone of the muscles. The only way to tighten the abdomen is through exercise.
- Pregnancy changes your body shape and posture in so many ways – your growing abdomen, enlarged breasts, swollen hands and feet, and stretch marks. Then you go through labour which can stretch your perineal area or lead to major abdominal surgery (Caesarian section). The changes to the ligaments can take 4-5 months to return to normal. So, your muscle strength must be developed to support the joints and help prevent injury during this period.
- This is also a period where you have extra physical demands of your body – the demands of caring for a newborn and rapidly growing baby. You may be spending more time in bent positions that are not good for your back. As well as your baby itself, you will have baby ‘gear’ like car seats and buggies to move around.
How does exercise help during and after pregnancy?
- Exercise helps to reduce back and pelvic pain
- Exercise for the pelvic floor muscles helps to reduce stress incontinence
- Pelvic floor exercise can help improve your sex life
- Exercise helps you to move around more easily and get back to normal life
What sort of exercises will I do?
- The exercises are carefully graded so that they are gentle enough for your body and level of fitness, while still working the muscles hard enough to make a difference.
- The exercises can be done at home, at any time of day.
- The only equipment you will need is a gym ball.
- The exercises are done in different positions: sitting, lying and standing.
How often do I need to exercise?
- To get the best results, you should exercise most days.
- One or two rest days each week are absolutely fine.
- You do not need to do all the exercises every day. We recommend choosing one really challenging exercise and one other.
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