There are all these stories of getting your pre-baby body back after birth. Unfortunately, that isn’t quite the case. Your body has gone through major changes over the last nine months. The organs displace, the muscles are moved, and the skin stretches.
After the birth of your baby, you’re left with a small pouch that was once the bump. That isn’t an issue at first, as you love the smell of your newborn and the feel of them close to you. However, after a while, you want to get your pre-baby stomach back.
The belly fat can be annoying and stubborn. It just seems like you can lose weight everywhere except here. All the crunches in the world aren’t going to help. You need to do other abs workouts that are targeted for specific groups around the area. There are other factors that you need to think about, and we’ll touch on them at the end. The focus of this article is the six targeted abs workouts that you need for stubborn after-baby belly fat.
Start with the Pelvic Tilt
If you had a natural delivery, this is something you should start doing as soon as possible. If you had a C-section, you’d want to discuss the best time to start working on your stomach muscles to allow for your surgery wound to heal.
The pelvic tilt is useful for all women, and not just to get your abs back. The exercise works on the core muscles, tightening your pelvic area to improve posture and strengthen the bladder muscles. Many pelvic floor exercises can be performed in bed, including this one!
Start on your back with a pillow under your hips and your knees bent. You want your feet firm on the floor, with a pillow between your knees. Keep your arms at your side.
Engage your abs, pulling them in as if you’re trying to connect them to your spine. Meanwhile, squeeze your butt muscles and tuck the pelvis underneath you. Hold the position for five seconds and then slowly release.
You want to do 10 repetitions with a 30-second break. Do three sets.
This is a great exercise to start your morning. You will improve your bladder muscle strength, helping to reduce the chance of accidental leaks such as when coughing or laughing. This is also good for tightening the vaginal muscles after a natural birth. You will also support the whole core area.
Move onto the Pelvic Bridge
After about six weeks from your vaginal delivery, you can move on from the pelvic tilt to the pelvic bridge. This is something you can do about 10 weeks after a c-section to work on that after-baby stomach.
You’re doing the same exercise as above, but with a slight variation at the end. Instead of just holding the muscles, you will raise your hips off the floor. Because of this, you’ll want to do this exercise on the floor and not on the bed.
Hold this bridge position for at least 10 seconds at first, building your way up to 30-60 seconds. There should be a straight line up from your lower chest to your knees. If there’s a dip in your hips, you’ll need to pull them up a little more.
You can also opt for the pulsing bridge. Raise up into the bridge and then lower back to the starting position. Repeat 5-10 times and take a 30-second break. Repeat the exercise three times.
This won’t just help to tone the stomach muscles. You’ll also feel tighter thighs and a tighter butt.
Move To the Heel Slides
Now that you’re ready to start back with normal exercises, it’s time to do some heel slides. These are excellent for building your core strength to allow you to do full leg raises later.
Lay on your back on the floor, with your feet hip-width apart and your knees bent. Keep your abs pulls tight throughout the exercise. You’ll have to focus on this, as it’s very easy to un-engage your abs.
Keep your pelvis still throughout the exercise, as you flex out the left foot, with the heel pressed to the floor. Push the leg out, sliding along the floor with your heel and then pull your leg back in. Do five with the left foot and then five with the right. You’ll want to get up to doing 10 at least.
This exercise will help support your core muscles and back. You’ll feel it working throughout the exercise if your abs are tight.
As you find this easier, you can lift the leg off the floor and slide out. Just have the leg a couple of inches off the floor for the best results.
Eventually, you’ll be able to work with both legs at the same time. There are a variety of leg raise exercises that you can do. One of the best is lying flat on your back and raising both legs off the floor at the same time. Hold them about 2 inches off the floor for as long as you can. Do make sure you’re fully healed from having the baby before you move onto the leg raises.
Try Out the Towel Pulse
While crunches don’t work, you can do some variations instead. The towel pulse is one of them.
Start on your back like with all the other exercises, but this time with your knees bent. Wrap a towel or resistance band around your shins, pull the thighs together with the edges of the band. Pull your abs in and raise your upper body up, so your shoulders are just off the ground. You don’t want to sit all the way up, and you don’t want to pull up on your legs. The aim is to get your abs working.
Release the position and lay back down. Repeat this at least 10 times and then take a 30-second break. Repeat two more times.
You will be able to move on to not having the towel there at all. As your core strength rebuilds, you’ll be able to keep your arms out towards the sides of your legs and engage the core to bring the shoulders off the mat.
This exercise works the whole core because you’re forcing yourself into a position. Crunches don’t quite give the same effect.
Move To the Plank
It’s time to start working on your core really. Once your doctor has said you’re healed, you’ll be able to tackle the plank. There are two types of planks that you want to do to get rid of the belly fat: the normal plank and the side plank.
Start with the normal plank. There are three versions that you can do of this, depending on your core strength and abilities.
Lie on your stomach on the mat and raise up into the push-up position. Hold this position for at least 15 seconds, keeping your butt down and a straight line from your head to your toes. The only two points of contact are your hands and feet.
If you can’t hold the whole plank, either lower to your elbows or your knees. Don’t lower to both! Build on your core strength before you move onto the full exercise.
As for the side plank, you can do a modified version of this too. Lie on your side, with your lower arm around chest height. Raise yourself up onto your elbow, keeping a straight line from head to toes. If this is too difficult, lower to the knee of the bottom leg.
The side plank can be made slightly harder. Raise your upper arm towards the ceiling. As you get even better, you can do the plank off the hand of your lower arm instead of the elbow.
With the plank, you’re engaging every single muscle in the abs. The side plank focuses more on the oblique muscles, helping to get rid of love handles.
Finish with the Russian Twist
Finally, you want to do the Russian twist. This is one of the more experienced exercises and something that you need to make sure you’re completely healed for.
You can do it without weights or with a medicine ball/single dumbbell. Start without the weights to build your core strength and then move onto adding something to make your workout a little more difficult.
Sit up with your feet in front, knees bent and only your heels are touching the floor. Lean back, so you’re in half sit up. Bring your arms to your chest and hold the weight there if you’re using one. Twist from side to side, bringing your arms (and the weight) to the side and then back to the other.
As you get better at the exercise, pull your legs off the ground. This adds more of a workout for your abs.
You’ll feel the tightening of your oblique muscles and your lower abs the most.
A Word of Warning
It’s not all about the abs workouts. You will need to do more to help get rid of the stubborn belly fat. A healthy and balanced diet is essential.
If you’re breastfeeding, you don’t want to diet specifically. Focus on a healthy and balanced meal plan that sustains your energy. Healthy fats and protein-filled meals are perfect for your needs. A few fiber-filled carbs will also be good for the boosts of energy throughout the day. When your meals are full of nutrients, your baby will get all the support necessary.
While breastfeeding, your body naturally burns more calories than it would usually. You will feel the need to eat more. You can find a balance to make sure you don’t gain weight without putting your baby and your health at risk.
If you’re not breastfeeding, you can diet much sooner. You still want to put your health first, so a balanced diet is important. However, you don’t have to worry about the excess nutrients that your body will lose for your baby. The metabolism won’t be as high as a breastfeeding mom, but that can mean you won’t feel as hungry.
You’ll also need to do other exercises. Some cardio will be good for you, but you don’t need to get right out to start running or join the gym. Take the baby for walks outside. Pushing the buggy is a workout, and you and baby will enjoy the fresh air.Swimming is also an excellent form of exercise, especially for the stomach muscles. It helps to work all muscles in the body, and you can take your baby to spend time together in the pool.
Make sure you talk to your doctor before you start exercising and dieting, especially if you’ve had a c-section. You will need to make sure you are ready to workout.
A healthy diet with a small amount of exercise will be good for you mentally. You can help minimise the baby blues and starve off postnatal depression. If you do have PND, you can use diet and exercise as a way to naturally overcome it.
Take Your Time to Get Your Pre-Baby Body Back
The belly fat is stubborn. You’re not just getting rid of the fat after having a baby. You’re putting the muscles back in the right place, toning them back up, and reducing the amount of skin you have. It took you nine months to get like this, so it’s going to take about the same time to get your pre-baby body back.
Give yourself time. Don’t pressure yourself into starting your exercise routine right away. Focus on building your strength and enjoying your time with your baby. Check with your midwife or doctor if you’re ready to start exercising.
The only one you can do right away is the pelvic tilt. Most doctors will recommend it immediately after giving birth to help improve the muscles. From there, you can build up and keep adding in a new exercise a week.