Postpartum belly: Personal trainer shares tips to get a strong core post-pregnancy

Postpartum belly: Personal trainer shares tips to get a strong core post-pregnancy

October 15, 2022

Your body will go through a lot of changes during pregnancy, but gaining enough weight to support your growing baby is among the most important things you can do when you’re expecting.

Many women feel as though they are packing on the pounds during pregnancy, but most of the new weight can be attributed to fluids and expanding body tissue.

A full-term pregnancy weight gain of around 30 pounds would include four pounds of increased fluid, four pounds of added blood volume, two pounds of breast tissue, two pounds of uterus tissue, 1.5 pounds of placenta, two pounds of amniotic fluid, seven pounds of fat, protein, and other nutrient stores, and 7.5 pounds of your baby’s weight.

After having your baby, it will take some time before your body recovers from all that work it’s been doing for the past nine months.

The combination of belly fat, loose skin, and hormones can make your belly look pregnant even after the delivery.

Most doctors recommend waiting at least six weeks after vaginal delivery, and eight weeks after a caesarean delivery before you get back to a serious exercising regime.

Isaac Robertson, personal trainer, co-founder, and chief editor of TotalShape.com, shares tips and exercises for safely working on your post-pregnancy belly fat.

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During the pregnancy

Most women gain between 22lb (10kg) and 28lb (12.5kg) during pregnancy, and between 37lb (17kg) and 55lb (25kg) during a twin pregnancy.

The personal trainer said: “A healthy lifestyle during these months will help minimise the risk of gaining too much weight, which can increase the chances of loose belly skin and excessive belly fat.

“A well-balanced diet will support the development of the foetus and the gradual weight gain which is normal during pregnancy.”

Moderate physical activity is recommended during this period, as it lowers the chances of excessive weight gain and makes it easier to get back to your pre-pregnancy exercise routine.

“Exercises that strengthen and tone your abdominal muscles, such as pilates and yoga, are highly recommended, although you should consult your doctor before starting any program,” explains Isaac.

After the childbirth

It will take some time to adjust to your new lifestyle after you’ve had a baby.

Immediately after childbirth, your focus should be on recovery, bonding with your baby, and eating nutritious food.

Isaac explained: “As already mentioned, you should avoid any high-impact exercise for at least six to eight weeks, but low-impact exercise like walking, swimming, and yoga soon after giving birth are beneficial not only for your general health, but it may also help reduce the risk of postpartum depression.”

Pelvic tilts

You need to make sure that your abdominal muscles are fully healed before doing any vigorous abdominal exercises.

The exercise guru said: “In the beginning, your focus should be on strengthening your deepest abdominal muscle called the transversus abdominis, whose role is to stabilise the torso and maintain internal abdominal pressure.”

The best exercise for this is the pelvic tilt, done by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.

When in this position, pull your belly button in toward your spine and lift your pelvis off the floor, tighten your buttocks and hold for five seconds. Your aim should be five sets of 20 repetitions.

After your abdominal muscles have recovered, you can switch to some more demanding exercises that will further help strengthen your abdominal muscles.

These exercises should be done two to three times a week.

Forearm plank

The plank is a great exercise for toning your abdominal muscles and tightening your stomach.

Lying on your stomach, with your forearms planted on the floor, rise up onto your toes. Keep your body straight from head to heels by tightening your abs and clenching your glutes.

Hold for 20 seconds in the beginning, moving up the time mark as you get stronger.

Forearm plank strengthens your arms, shoulders, and legs, as well as your core. It is also great for your posture.

Reverse crunch

Isaac recommends the reverse crunch as it targets your core muscles and can help you shift belly fat.

While on your back, lift up your legs and bend the knees so that your thighs form a 90 degree angle with the ground.

Using your abs, bring your knees to your chest, hold for two seconds and release. Repeat 10 times.

He explained: “Reverse crunches are less demanding on your back than regular crunches, and they target core muscles, including your rectus abdominis, also known as the six pack.”

Scissor kicks

The personal trainer said: “Scissor kicks target a surprising amount of abdominal muscles, while also strengthening your glutes, quads, and adductors.”

Lying face-up, lift your straightened legs about 45 degrees off the ground. Lower and lift your legs alternatively while creating the scissoring motion.

You should aim for around 15 to 20 repetitions.

Post-pregnancy loose belly skin

Excess skin on your belly is normal after pregnancy and its occurrence is influenced by many factors, such as age, weight, lifestyle, and genetics.

Although not a lot can be done to prevent loose skin, it can be minimised with a healthy, balanced diet and moderate exercise during pregnancy.

After childbirth, surgical procedures have proven to be the most effective treatment.

Isaac added: “During pregnancy, your focus should be on leading as healthy a lifestyle as you can, providing your body with high-quality nutrients and light physical activity.

“After giving birth to your baby, you and your body are adjusting to your new roles, and you shouldn’t stress yourself with jumping right back into your pre-pregnancy exercise routine.

“Consult your doctor before doing anything. In the beginning, start by slowly building strength in your abdominal muscles, and gradually work toward more demanding exercises.”

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