As your life changes to a new normal after baby gets here, getting into an exercise routine will help you build up your strength again in muscles that have been stretched or underused during pregnancy, allowing you to bounce back more quickly. Exercise can also have non-physical benefits—even a simple activity like walking can have an impact on reducing postpartum depression.
However, no two pregnancies or bodies are the same, so make sure to give yourself enough time to heal before safely getting back into a routine. Be sure to talk to your doctor about what level of exercise you should be doing before getting started. With all this in mind, here are the 5 best exercises to help strengthen your core after pregnancy and you back to feeling your best.
Breathing exercises are simple and effective, especially as you start out your routine. Start by lying down on your back with your knees up. Take a deep breath and as you exhale, tighten those lower abdominal muscles and engage your pelvic floor as you hold for 5 seconds. Try to do around 5-10 of these abdominal exercises each day.
Lie on the floor with your arms at your sides and your knees bent upward. Slide one leg forward until it is flat against the ground, then slide your leg back to its original starting position. Alternate your legs and for a total of 20 slides for each leg. You can also incorporate breathing techniques into this exercise by inhaling as you stretch out your leg and exhaling as you bring it back.
The pelvic tilt can be done in a number of different positions, but the most common form is done while lying on your back on the floor in the same starting position as the heel slides: arms at your sides, and knees bent. Your feet should also be hip-width apart. As you exhale, gently pull your pelvis toward your body, while at the same time contracting your lower abs downward. Aim to do 8-10 reps of these.
Continuing on your back and with your knees in the same position, take one leg and raise it at the knee so your shin and calf are parallel to the floor. Next, straighten your leg and extend it out close to the floor, and bring it back to your starting position with your foot on the floor.
It’s important to keep your back straight with this exercise as you focus instead on working those ab muscles. Aim for a set of 10 reps for each leg. If this becomes easier for you, you can take it up a notch with raised leg extensions. Starting with both legs in the air with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle, extend one leg out towards the floor, and then back into the air, switching sides.
Our last recommended exercise is similar to the leg extensions. Lie on your back with your legs in the air and knees bent, shins parallel to the ground. Lower one leg until the heel taps the ground, then raise it up to the original position before switching to the other leg. Like some of the other exercises, 10 reps of these are a good goal.
As you complete these exercises, remember to always be engaging your core, and if you are feeling overwhelmed in attempting these, listen to your body and go at your own pace. With patience and practice, you will be able to get the results you want!