A Beginner’s Guide To Building Strength In Your Core After Having A Baby
Besides the obvious baby bump and weight gain, the musculoskeletal system undergoes many unseen changes during pregnancy. As the belly expands, the abdominals stretch and the back muscles shorten, the diaphragm changes to accommodate the growing belly, affecting breath mechanics. The rib cage slides backwards out of the way of the pregnancy resulting in short, shallow chest breaths. Things don’t just snap back into place after the baby arrives, and the challenges of going back to working out after childbirth go far beyond just finding the time and energy as a new mom.
As an expert in the field, I at Mama Strength know that there’s a ton of misinformation out there, and I don’t want you to injure yourself while getting back to working out. This is why I have written down a beginner’s guide to safely and effectively bring strength back to your core after having a baby. You will only need fifteen minutes out of your day to be able to focus on these breathing and core exercises.
First, you need to understand the three parts involved to activate your core.
360 breathing: Start sitting tall with a long spine. Place your hands on your bottom ribs with your fingertips on the front and thumbs on the back. Begin by inhaling through your nose and allowing your ribs to expand front, side, back (360 degrees). Try not to breathe into your chest and keep your shoulders relaxed as you do this. As you exhale, pierce the air out of your lips just like air pushes out of a balloon when it’s being deflated. Push as much out as you can while feeling your ribs pull together and your navel pulling in towards your low back. As you exhale, try to keep your spine long and don’t curve your back. Aim to do three sets of ten in one sitting.
Pelvic floor activations: Sitting tall on your chair, inhaling and trying to allow your pelvic floor muscles to completely relax, almost like you’re trying to flatten out a napkin. As you exhale, pull your pelvic floor muscles together and then in and up, imagining your muscles are pulling up through a narrow tube. Try not to squeeze your glutes or hip flexors as you do this. Repeat this ten times.
Core canister pump: Once these first two steps start to feel more natural, try to combine both of them. Begin by sitting tall, inhaling through the nose, and allowing your ribs to expand and pelvic floor muscles to release. On the exhale, pierce the air through your lips and let your ribs pull towards each other, navel drawing in and pelvic floor muscles drawing in and up. Give some strength behind the exhale and feel your entire core try to draw towards the center. Aim to do this ten times in sets of three at one go.
Focus: We want to make sure you are not sucking in your belly and hold tension in your neck and shoulders. You want to feel your core hug in to support your back and feel the muscles activating, but not so much where you feel like you have to hold your breath. These are all safe to do and won’t need to avoid anything.
Trust the process: Try to achieve these three exercises seated first. Once they start to feel more natural, take the exercises to the floor while laying on your back. No matter what position you are in, try to keep your spine long and in neutral alignment (meaning not to round or arch your back too much).
Advice From The Pros
Be patient: This will not feel natural at first, and it doesn’t happen overnight. You will have to practice this daily, and sooner than later, it will become easier to do.
If you are looking for a certified pre/postnatal fitness trainer in North Central, NJ, reach out to me at Mama Strength. As a mother, I’m sure you typically put the needs of yourself last. But finding your inner strength can help you better structure and navigate experiences that come with motherhood. Like all things, motherhood takes determination and a solid plan. My goal is to provide you with a customized framework of strength-building tools that guide you through any stage of motherhood. Whether you are prenatal, postpartum, or balancing the demands of multiple kids, I’ll be there to support you through each step along the way. You’ll improve your overall energy, gain more confidence, and feel more in control, helping you become the best mom and person you can be!
I offer services like in-home personal training, virtual personal training, and group classes to clients across Scotch Plains, Westfield, Watchung, Summit, New Providence, Berkeley Heights, Cranford, Clark, Millburn, Chatham, South Orange, Plainfield, Jersey City, Hoboken, and the surrounding areas. To learn more about the services I offer, please click here. To get in touch with me, please click here.