A few mommy friends of mine have asked me how to begin re-training their abdominals (aka core) postpartum. Going through pregnancy and labour (and multiple times!) can be very hard on your body, and all those core muscles go through a long period of stretch and lengthening to accommodate baby. It is really important to re-train these muscles to prevent or help issues such as back pain, incontinence, abdominal muscle separation (i.e. diastasis recti), sacroiliac joint/hip pain, poor posture, and more. The following exercises are gentle and suitable for beginners, those that are postpartum at least 6 weeks, if you are having a rest day from working out, or if you want to work on form and tone up your tummy.
Please note: if you have serious pain, diastasis recti, or incontinence, you should consult your health care professional (e.g. physiotherapist, physician).
The first video is instructional and demos how to do the exercises. If you are very new to exercise or this type of abdominal workout, follow along to make sure you understand the movement and remember that quality is better than quantity! It is much more important to hold the pose / do the movement correctly than to do many repetitions of poor movement. Also, never hold your breath, and always take breaks when you need it. You want to push yourself to discomfort but never pain.
This second video is a modified tabata style version of the above exercises. Because this method is timed, you want to do as many reps as possible in the 20 seconds but again making sure the poses/movements are correctly executed. You can follow along when you feel confident that you have the poses down pat, or alternatively you could choose to perform the poses at your own pace and do 3 sets of 5-10 reps, depending on your level. For the bird-dog pose, you can hold 3 sets of 10-30 seconds.