You have had a baby and you might be wondering how to get your belly back to it’s former self. The good news is that you can get your stomach back!
15-20 pounds usually goes within the first four to six weeks (based on a 30 pound weight gain). The 15-20 pounds comes from: baby, amniotic fluid, placenta, blood volume, breast tissue, fat storage, urination and the uterus involution. With all of this in mind, notice how hard the body is working in the first few weeks postpartum, it is a super delicate time!
To support the pregnant body’s growing frontside, certain muscle groups must take on more pressure and strain. It can lead to long term back pain, rounding of the upper back and distended belly post-baby. To compensate for all of these postural changes, the exercise routine must follow suit!
So why does the distended belly stick around? This “pooch” is not just from being pregnant. The biggest reason a distended belly remains is due to an underused or under-activated core muscle, the transverse abdominis.
We are used to working our six-pack muscle (the rectus abdominis). For example, a crunch mainly works your rectus abs. But we are going to teach you how to active your innermost core muscles. In fact, I recommend you don’t waste your time on another crunch until you know how to activate these innermost core muscles!
The transverse abdominis – one of the most important core muscles – goes unnoticed in traditional ab exercises. If you have had a baby, knowing what exercises you can do for the transverse abdominis is really important! We will get into some transverse abdominis exercises and workouts in a sec, but first let’s cover what we are working with!
First let’s chat about engaging the transverse abdominis. You can do it from a seated position or lying position. Whether you are in your bed or sitting at your desk, take the next 60 seconds to do this.
Second, we will cover a common condition known as diastasis recti (abdominal separation).
Third, we will go over a smidge of anatomy…we gotta know what we are working with girls!
#1 Tranverse Abdominis Activation
I imagine you might be sitting at your desk, standing at the kitchen counter or lying in your bed reading this. And guess what? You can do this TA activation from a sitting, lying or a standing position. But it is easiest to learn in a lying position.
Take a deep breathe.
Now place your hand on your belly button. Take a deep inhale while letting your belly button and lower rib cage expand. Don’t let the shoulders rise (as they probably did in your first breath). Don’t let your hips tilt. Now as you exhale pull your belly button towards your spine, again without letting your hips tilt. That is action of the deep core muscle – the TA – as you exhale it is working.
So just how do you incorporate this into exercise? Well first know that it is an exercise all in itself. Try 30-40 seconds of the TA Activation Breathe, followed by rest, then repeat. After you master this TA breathe , add it to a crunch. And it will completely revamp the way you do core training! The video below in Part 3 will show you how!
You see, this is easier said than done. It takes practice. It takes teaching your brain to not always take the easy route. Sure it sounds like a lot of hard work, but really this one move is game changes for your core!
*These tummy exercises can be done during or after pregnancy. If you are pregnant it is ok to lie on your back for a short period of time. See prenatal transverse abdominis exercises.
#2 Postnatal Diastasis Recti
Believe it or not, research has shown that at least 45% of moms have an abdominal separation (or diastasis recti) six months postpartum. Most don’t even know that it’s there until they experience a weak core, a belly they don’t like (i.e. the mommy tummy, muffin top or any other ugly name we call it!) and low back pain. Use this self-test. Then follow our Postnatal Slimdown program, completely modified for diastasis recti.
#3 Postpartum Core Anatomy
When performing a crunch the usual focus is on the rectus abdominis, which is great, but it will not flatten your belly. The TVA or TA (transverse abdominis) is what will help you flatten your belly. The TA is a thick layer of muscle that runs from hip to hip. The transverse abdominal muscle wraps around the torso from front to back and the muscle fibers of the TA run horizontally, similar to a corset or a weight belt.
#4 Four-Minute Workout Video
To get your body back it is important you work your core from the inside. Peform this four-minute workout. I am going to teach you how to activate the TA (transverse abdominis), PF (pelvic floor) and diaphragm. I will also teach you how to incorporate it into everyday ab exercises.