Have you lost the baby weight yet still have a “mommy pooch” left behind? This could be a result of the changes that happen during pregnancy. During pregnancy, your pelvis tends to tilt forward due to the weight of your growing baby. As a result your hip flexors are shortened and your lower back arches. Look in the mirror and see if this is the case. Notice that when you purposefully bring your pelvis back to neutral how your abs look flatter. To keep your pelvis in this position, you will need to do hip flexor stretches and increase the strength of your core.
Your mommy pooch could also be a result of a Diastasis – a normal separation in the abdominal wall that’s caused by the growing uterus. Most of the exercises we do may actually make it worse, and even things as simple as lifting or rolling out of bed the wrong way can exacerbate the spread.
A diastisis is when the two halves of the abdominal wall separate at the center line due to the expanding belly during pregnancy. To check for a diastasis, lye on your back with your knees bent. Place your fingertips just below your bellybutton. Your fingers should be facing down towards your legs. Lift your head as high as you can and feel for a separation protruding from the middle of your abdomen. If you have a 2 – 3 finger separation, that’s a diastasis. Be careful not to exacerbate it during abdominal exercises, particularly during twisting movements. Chances are it will not get worse after pregnancy, but you do want to do exercises like those in this article to “knit” the abdominal wall back together. If yours does not get better or gets worse, talk to your doctor. In fact consult with a medical provider before you initiate any exercise program or endeavor.
Abdominal / Transverse Exercise On All – Fours
Get down on all-fours, palms flat on the floor, knees hip distance apart, toes touching the floor. Keeping your back flat, contract your abdominal wall. This is your starting position. Now bring your belly button toward your spine in a strong contraction. Squeeze and hold it there a moment, then release back to the starting position. Count out loud as you do 15 contractions.
Lie on your side and bend your knees. Your bottom arm should be resting under your head and your top arm should be bent with your hand touching your ear. Contract your transverse. Imagine zipping your bellybutton up under your ribs. Slowly move your elbow toward your waist. Count out loud while doing 10 repetitions. Make sure your head faces forward as you lift toward your waist.
Abdominal Leg Slides
Get into a back lying position. Contract your transverse as you bring both bent knees up in the air. Place one hand on your belly to make sure you are holding your transverse in and the other at your waist by the small of your back, with the palm facing up, to make sure your lower back is on the floor. Hold in your transverse as you slowly put just one foot on the floor. Then, slowly side your heel down the floor until your leg is straight. Continue to hold your transverse while you slowly slide this leg back up toward your buttocks and then lift it back up in the air to the starting position. Now do the same thing with the other leg. Do this alternating leg slide 15 times.
Lisa Druxman, MA, Chief Founding Mom, Fit4Mom
***As always, we ask you to please consult with a medical provider before you initiate any exercise program or attempt at exercise! Use your common sense, and only do that which is healthy for you and your body.