Postpartum Belly Buster

helene_befitmomBy Helene Byrne

Lots of new moms assume that they should do lots of crunches to firm up their mummy-tummies, when in fact, these types of exercises can do more harm than good in the initial postpartum period.

The problem with exercises like crunches and oblique curls, is that they primarily work the external layers of the abdominal wall. (The muscles that flex the spine to the front and side.)

After pregnancy, the external abs easily overpower the relatively weaker deepest abdominal muscle, the Transverse Abdominis, or TvA. The TvA is our body’s internal “girdle” and when contracted, compresses and flattens the abdomen. If you do a crunch without enough TvA strength, then your belly will balloon outward, which is exactly what you don’t want to happen. Why? Because in fitness, what you practice is what you get. Bulging of the abdominal wall makes problems like abdominal separation and low back pain worse, and prevents flattening of the abdomen.

Mom Baby ExerciseThe secret to flattening the abs after pregnancy is to recondition from the inside out—by building strength and control in your TvA first. So here’s a terrific postnatal TvA exercise that is safe to do right after both a vaginal delivery or a C-section, and for those with abdominal separation. And for all the not-so-new moms out there, good news, it’s never too late to change the shape of your tummy.

Postpartum Belly Buster

1. Lie on your side with a small pillow under your head, knees bent, hips stacked, and spine neutral. Relax your abdominal wall and allow it to expand. (Don’t panic— everyone’s tummy lies next to them after
childbirth!)

2. Inhale deeply, and then exhale slowly while hissing forcefully through your teeth. As you hiss, tighten your abdomen, pulling your belly up away from the floor, and in toward your spine as much as you can.
Keep your torso completely still, maintain the neutral position.

3. Hold the contraction for a few moments, breathing naturally. Take care that you don’t relax your abs as you breathe, keep them tight.

4. Inhale deeply, repeat the hiss/exhalation and try to increase the intensity of the abdominal compression. Maintain the abdominal contraction, breathing naturally.

5. Repeat the exhalation/hiss with abdominal compression a third time, trying to increase the intensity of the contraction even more. Once again, hold the contraction and breathe naturally.

6. Exhale, relax your abdominal wall allowing it to soften and expand naturally. (Don’t push it outward.)

7. Perform 4 repetitions to complete one set. Perform four or more sets daily.

After this muscle has become strong again, (in about three weeks or so of regular conditioning) you can progressively add in exercises that work the external layers, while maintaining a flat abdominal profile.
Using this method, you’ll not only shrink your waist and flatten your tummy, but just as importantly, develop deep core strength and spine stability.

Training Tips

1. If you have difficulty breathing, it is because you are “sucking up” and contracting your diaphragm. Try to isolate the contractions below your belly button.
2. The TvA does not move bone. Keep your spine—particularly your upper body—completely still.
3. Use mental imagery. Imagine that you have on an old fashioned corset that laces up the front, and that it gets tighter and tighter as you compress your abdominal wall.

Helene Byrne, founder of BeFit-Mom at is a perinatal exercise specialist, and author of the award winning DVD “Bounce Back Fast! Post Natal Core Conditioning” and the acclaimed book, “Exercise after Pregnancy: How to Look and Feel Your Best.

***WIN A COPY of Helene’s award winning DVD “Bounce Back Fast! post Natal Core Conditioning”***

We are thrilled to be able to offer one reader of Mommy News & Views blog a copy of this great post-partum conditioning DVD. Please see below for ways to be entered to win. Winner will be chosen by random draw, so be sure to leave a separate comment for each entry into the contest:

MANDATORY ENTRY:
In order to be entered into this contest, you must answer this question: “What surprised you the most when reading about postpartum abdominal reconditioning?” Leave your answer in the comments section.

EXTRA ENTRIES:
Once you have completed the mandatory entry, you can do any or all of the following to earn extra chances to win this great DVD.

1) Become a fan of Our Boutique on facebook. Go ahead over and join our fan page and then come back here and leave a comment telling us you did – be sure to leave your “facebook ID” in your comment so that we can confirm.

2) Tweet about this contest. Are you on twitter? Well, help us spread the word by telling all of your followers about this great article and give-away. Please use the hashtag #bellybuster in your tweet. Don’t forget to come back here and tell us about your tweet (and give us a link to it) for an extra entry! You can do this up to THREE times per day – but be sure to leave a separate comment for each tweet.

3) Follow our blog. Sign up to receive email updates from our blog for another entry into this contest. If you are already a follower, please leave a comment telling us!

4) Not on Twitter or Facebook? No problem, send out an email to all of your mommy friends who you think might benefit from this DVD and tell them to come to Mommy News & Views Blog for a chance to win one of their own. Be sure to bcc or cc us on your email (don’t worry we won’t use your friend’s email addresses for anything – we just need to see the email to confirm that you completed this step).

This contest will be open until midnight on Wednesday, September 9th. Winner must have a US-based postal address for shipment of the DVD.

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