Every thinks to have a lean tight stomach they need to crunch their life away. Nothing could be more false especially during pregnancy and right after. Now I believe in ab exercises BUT I think people forget that we need to tighten the internal abs muscles during and after a baby. Even years after kids its important to work these muscles. Most people focus on the 6 pack and obliques and ignore the inner transverse muscles. In fact too much pressure on the retcus abdominals can cause Recti Diastasis or irritate it too soon after pregnancy. (See Recti Diastasis- Avoiding the Mommy Pooch. ) and when the rectus abdominals is always help tight WITHOUT working the traverse and pelvic floor it creates dysfunction aka frequent urination, lower back pain, pooched core, and urinary incontinence. During pregnancy this is a common problem.
After the twins I had poor bladder control while exercising. Jumping jacks and tuck jumps were my worse enemy. I also avoided drinking water before teaching classes at night so I didn’t have to leave class to use the bathroom. NOW even just four weeks after having baby Camry its already better than before because of all the TA and pelvic floor work I did.
You are going to see these breathing techniques and think they are silly and do not work. But push your doubts a side a try them. I learned them all at a Women’s Wellness Physical therapy I did during pregnancy. Due to my high level f activity I was discouraged with my bladder and recti issues so I went in for help. I thought these were silly at first too but as I started them I saw my bladder control improve right away and now post baby my core is recovering much better than my last pregnancy. I have already reduced my Recti to a 1 finger gap and with the twins i was close to three fingers so—-I AM A BELIEVER!
If you want better bladder control (Yes moms I am talking to you its possible) and a flatter stomach stick with me and do these few things. You wont get a flat stomach with JUST these exercises though either. You need to eat right and move your body. If its been years since you had a baby you still can do traditional ab work but you will not get the stomach you want without TA work! And if your fresh off having a baby or are trying to heal DR avoid any exercise in which your stomach bulges in the middle work on these techniques and strength your core through side planks, reverse planks, and bridges.
Also huge factor is your posture make sure you do not have an anterior tilt when standing (Shown and explained in how to Avoid the Mommy Pooch post)
This is the most common exercise I do daily. Literally every day! I mainly do it while lifting and it does slow down my lifting workouts BUT I swear by it. You dont have to be lifting to work on this either!My stomach has been pulling in so fast after this pregnancy and My bladder control is better than it was before this second pregnancy and almost back to normal! I continue to do these post baby too. I take a big inhale in and exhale and make sure the lower stomach pulls in all the way in before lifting weights. And if I felt I was losing the stomach engagement I would stop in the middle of my reps and repeat it.
Here is a video doing it while pregnant. Its really easy to see my lower stomach pull in. because the top part cant 🙂
Now its harder to see but if you look in a mirror the bottom part of your stomach will pull in before the top.
TA Contractions (Belly Suckers- Diaphragmatic breathing)
1-While on your back , keep your knees up
2-Place your hands on your lower abdomen (DO not push too deep- no more than 1/2 ) with ebows resting on floor beside you
4- Breath in through your nose and expand your belly- round out your stomach as you take in as much air as possible.
3- Exhale out of your mouth but pretend you are blowing out through a straw. While doing so tighten your abdominals. Picture bringing your belly button back down towards your spine or even the squeezing into small jeans. Its like the bottom of your belly is trying to tuck in and then the top pulls down and in towards your spine.
NOTE: Your stomach should flatten, not bulge, as you exhale.Relax and repeat.
TA and Pelvic Floor Exercises:
Heel Slides: Lay on your back, tighten your abdominal muscles and do a pelvic tilt by pressing your lower back into the floor. Slowly slide out one leg at a time while trying to maintain your pelvic tilt and keeping your ab muscles tightened. You can also work on Heel slides with your TA pulled in sitting on an exercise ball and slide your feet out and in one at a time. Two sets of 10 reps
Pelvic Tilt: Lay on your back with your knees bent. Start with your pelvis tilted so your lower back against the ground. Try to bring your belly button to your backbone as you push your low back down against the floor . As you bring your hips down exhale and tighten your core. Hold for 5 seconds, inhale, and relax. 10 reps
Leg drops: While lying on your back with your knees bent. Start with your pelvis tilted so your lower back against the ground. Do a TA contraction as explained above. Drop one knee at a time to the side without twisting your hips to bring the knee to the side. 10 reps on each leg
Pelvic Floor (Straw Pulls)
Beginner: While on your back , keep your knees up . you need to pull the muscles up and in. picture and straw down there and you are trying to suck it up. This is the same muscle you use to stop the flow of urine. You are not contracting your abs, legs, or buttock.
Preform the straw pulls for 10 quick pulls and than 10 holds(Hold 2-5 seconds) once you are pulled on
Once you have mastered this movement try it seated and standing
Here are to more views of the breathing at 6 weeks postpartum standing and lifting weights