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DISCLAIMER: I am not a licensed medical care provider and have no expertise in diagnosing, examining, or treating medical conditions of any kind, or in determining the effect of any specific exercise on a medical condition. The following exercises are suggested based on my experience and results with them. Consult your physician before trying any of these exercises and programs.
I had a relatively easy pregnancy without too much pain and discomfort. Like any preggo woman who doesn’t exercise regularly, though, I definitely noticed a decrease in abdominal strength as my pregnancy progressed. Once I had E, I had a really hard time connecting with my core muscles again. I had a c-section, which I’m quite sure contributed to this, as there was loss of sensation in my scar area as well.
In my journey to help heal my scar and surrounding area, I was given some stretches and exercises to do that I found really helped build my strength back up and connect to my core again.
Exercise is discouraged in the 4-6 weeks after giving birth. However, something low impact like walking is great. When you can start is definitely dependent on how your labour and delivery went and based on when your doctor says you can began walking longer distances. Having a c-section may make this time period longer. Even the 7 minute walk to my doctors office was discouraged at my 1 week check-up. I still did it, but they were not happy.
So, make sure you are good to go before going for walks. Once you can, walking is such a good way to get moving without over extending yourself. It also gets you out of the house, which is amazing for your mood.
2. Postnatal Yoga
I loved postnatal yoga because it started off super low-key and then as you got stronger, you could do harder poses. If you don’t like yoga, I still recommend doing the poses that help strengthen your abdomen. A lot of them are laying down too, which is totally my favourite style for working out. I like the one Shiva Rea has on DVD.
An unexpected benefit of yoga was that it helped reduce pain during sex. As a result of c-sections, scar tissue can adhere to other organs and areas in the pelvis, making sex painful. So the doctors advice of “just use more lube” doesn’t freaking work! Yoga did.
I would also suggest going to a physiotherapist or massage therapist to help massage the scar tissue so things flow better and aren’t “sticky” in your pelvic region.
3. Fit2B Studio’s Foundational 5+ Program (Affiliate Link)
This course is super low-impact. In fact, it doesn’t seem like you’re doing much, but it really is rebuilding your core from the inside, all with tummy-safe movements. I like that I don’t feel exhausted at the end but still feel good about doing exercise. Fit2B also teaches you how to incorporate the movements into everyday life.
Another bonus with these programs is that they can help heal diastisis recti! Make sure to contact Fit2B to find out which program is the best for this and you.
4. Cobra Pose
I found this pose not only helped strengthen and stretch abdominal muscles, but I found it helped with back pain. I was given this pose to do by my massage therapist, Andrea Sanders. She recommended doing this pose for 60 seconds, 3 times a day. I did it as part of my home care for a few months and had no back pain. I stopped doing it regularly and started getting back pain.
Of course, E was growing this whole time so was heavier and was also more demanding in her play, so I was hanging out in odd positions. I do it whenever my back is particularly sore and it helps relieve it instantly. I definitely recommend this pose once you’re cleared to be laying on your stomach!
5. Dead Bug Exercise
Andrea also recommended this exercise once I had built up some core strength. This one is a tad more advanced, but if you’re comfortable doing it and cleared to exercise, it’s a great one to build your abdominal muscles without doing crunches or other hard core exercises.
How to: Lay on your back with your knees bent at a 90 degree angle arms in the air, lined up with your legs. Straighten your leg to hover above the floor while simultaneously lowering your opposite arm to hover above the floor. Repeat on opposite side for a total of 15 reps. Do this 3 times a day. Amp it up by using a weight in your hands. Your hands would lower at the same time.
5 Simple Exercises To Rebuild Core Strength
I want to reiterate that you should be cleared to exercise before doing any of these! You’re likely going to the doctor regularly anyway, so just ask about what movements you can do. And listen to your body! None of these should be painful.
If you’re having pain, a physiotherapist or massage therapist can likely help you, depending on what is causing the pain. Don’t be afraid to ask! As moms we always seem to forget about taking care of ourselves. There is no reason to live in pain and discomfort!
Take care of yourselves, mamas!