You were asked to gain 15-35 lbs. over the course of nine months. That is a significant amount of weight to lose. Women have a much higher blood volume during pregnancy, and that does not vanish overnight. Within the first four to six weeks your postnatal body is considered “normal” in the fact that all systems are back to normal. But you are left with loose muscles, extra fat, fluid retention for breastfeeding and sometimes some cellulite that did not reside on your thighs prior to getting pregnant.
12-20 pounds usually goes within the first four to six weeks (based on a 30 pound weight gain). The 12-20 pounds comes from: baby, amniotic fluid, placenta, blood volume, breast tissue, fat storage, swelling & urination and the uterus involution (the uterus returning to it’s normal size).
While cardiac output increases blood volume by 30-40% and your heart rate speeds up 10-15 bpm by the end of your 2nd trimester, ALL systems decrease in activity within 2-3 days of your baby’s arrival. All returning entirely normal by 6 weeks postpartum.
Notice how hard your body is working in the first few weeks postpartum, it is a delicate time for your body. And throw in a newborn’s sleep schedule on top of that!
You can resume exercise once your doctor gives you permission.
Vaginal deliveries – this usually happens at the 4 week postpartum appointment.
C-Section deliveries – this usually happens at the 6 or 8 week postpartum appointment.
Expect your body to be back at its pre-pregnancy weight around six months postpartum. Anything before that is simply unrealistic.
Your body is remarkably adaptable, and your recovery to pre-pregnancy hormone levels, uterus size, and so on is a postpartum miracle. Your core muscles are just as adaptable, but you have to use all abdominal muscles to make them bounce back. You cannot expect them to bounce back unless you – by, you guessed it, doing core exercises. We don’t expect to run a 10k race by not running…so we can’t expect our tummy muscles to bounce back by not exercising.
Crunches work the rectus abdominis, while the transverse abdominis is often not cued. Using the transverse abdominis muscle is a big part of your postnatal abs. The TA is a thick layer of muscle that runs from hip to hip, wrapping around the torso from front to back. The muscle fibers of the TA run horizontally, similar to a corset or a weight belt. These muscles are your true core muscles, and strengthening them will give you power and tone your entire body.
During pregnancy your transverse abdominis and pelvic floor support that baby. So wouldn’t it be wise to work those muscles to get your stomach to go back to the way it was?
Vaginal deliveries with midline episiotomies, especially 4th degree (1st being smallest) can create dysfunction of the pelvic floor, which also interrupts core function. Several of the tools and instruments that doctors use to assist you in giving birth, vacuums and forceps, for example, can cause PF dysfunction.
Whether you have a vaginal delivery or a c-section the Pelvic Floor and the TA act as a sling to your baby. Which is why you need to train these specific muscles to get back the integrity and strength of your core before returning to traditional abdominal exercises.
Here is a daily, effective workout core workout to help get your core muscles back after pregnancy. Whether you had a c-section or vaginal delivery these exercises will help you create a flat, strong stomach. Get your doctor’s permission before performing.
If you are 0-8 weeks Pospartum, please visit our step-by-step instructions on Postpartum Exercise.
Free Postpartum Workout for the post baby belly!
As much as we want to focus on the core, your body needs aerobic (cardio) + full body strength exercises. Here are several fun and effective postnatal workout videos to help get your body back after pregnancy. Whether you had a c-section or vaginal delivery these exercises are safe for the postpartum body.