Fitness + Well-being

A gentle postpartum exercise routine to help flatten your belly

Giving birth is hard work, but getting your abs back in shape after delivering your baby doesn't have to be. Marianne Ryan, a physical therapist and author of "Baby Bod," shares four of her favorite exercises to trim and tone your post-pregnancy tummy

 

Giving birth is hard work, but getting your abs back in shape after delivering your baby doesn't have to be. Although many women believe they must refrain from exercising until six weeks after giving birth, waiting till that long may not be necessary for all women.

“There’s nothing magical about waiting until you’re six weeks postpartum,” Dr. Manny Alvarez, a Fox News contributor, and chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey, told Fox News.

Alvarez explained that, if you’ve given birth vaginally, typically your doctor will want to see you six weeks postpartum to ensure that everything checks out — that is, that you’re not bleeding or having any other complications that could make exercising dangerous.

So, “if you want to exercise earlier,” Alvarez cautioned, “you should consult with your doctor.”

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To ease back into an exercise routine after giving birth, Marianne Ryan, a physical therapist and author of the book "Baby Bod," suggested starting with gentle exercises during the first six weeks.

“I have people focus on a preliminary phase of exercises to work on reactivating the core muscles,” Ryan told Fox News. After restoring your core muscles and your breathing capacity, you should be able to move onto deeper strengthening exercises, she said.

Here, Ryan shares four of her favorite gentle exercises to start flattening that post-pregnancy tummy:

  • 1. The bridge

    The bridge

    Start by lying on a mat with a thin pillow behind your head. Bend your knees, hips and ankles, keeping your heels down and your toes pointed toward the ceiling. Lift your buttocks and keep your body in a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Count aloud for five seconds, and then do five quick pulses up with your pelvis before returning it down to the mat.

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  • 2. The table top

    The table top

    This move helps strengthen your abdominals through breath. Begin on all fours and turn your hands so your fingers are facing each other. Keep your hips over your knees and your shoulders over your hands. Bend your elbows slightly, tuck your chin in a bit, and move your body forward so your breasts are over your hands. Then take a deep breath in so your ribcage expands laterally. Exhale. Hold this position for 15 seconds. Do this move twice until you can build up to a 30-second hold two times in a row.

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  • 3. Side-leg glides

    Side-leg glides

    Leg exercises work your core muscles and those that stabilize the pelvis and the hips. Start by lying on your side with a pillow under your head for support. You want your entire spine, from your head down to your buttocks, in a straight line. Make a fist with your upper hand and press it into the floor in front of your tummy. Roll your hips forward a bit so they are stacked on top of each other. Bend your bottom leg so your knee is at a 90-degree angle. Lift your top leg up to hip height, and glide your leg forward and then back into a straight line with your body. Repeat this 15 times with each leg for one set.

  • 4. Knee touch downs

    Knee touch downs

    Start this move in the same position as the side-leg glides; on your side with your knees at a 90-degree angle. Then lift the foot of your upper leg so it’s facing toward the ceiling. You will need to rotate each thigh toward your opposite thigh to do this. Keeping your knee bent, bring your knee down and slightly forward so you can touch the floor with your knee, then extend that leg back up until it’s aligned with your body and above your hip. Repeat this 10 times with each leg. 

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    Ryan recommended trying to do at least 10 reps of each move for a total of 15 minutes, three times a week.

    “These are a great precursor to then going back to more vigorous exercise like classes, running, [or] anything that’s much more vigorous,” she said.

    For more visit BabyBodBook.com.