The effects of pregnancy on the body can have you looking in the mirror at someone new. Your whole body has changed to accommodate this new bundle of joy, but it also feels like it took your identity. Incorporating core strengthening exercises postpartum can help you shrink your stomach and avoid the mommy pooch so you can feel a little sense of normalcy after nine months of growing. 

I gained forty pounds with my son and by the end, I was the heaviest I had ever been. After his birth, I lost 20 lbs. and was ecstatic! However, a month later I still hadn’t lost any more weight. While I wasn’t as big as I was in pregnancy, I now had this flabby stomach that sagged and I felt insecure. I knew that I needed to work on fixing my diastasis recti to help tighten up my stomach again. I created my own program of postpartum core exercises to perform and I am going to share the best ones with you below.

How Do I Strengthen My Core Postpartum?

During pregnancy, your body makes amazing changes to accommodate your little one. One of those accommodations is widening the abdominal wall to allow room for your baby to grow. Thankfully, it will shrink back down some however, it is our job to then rejoin the mind-muscle connection and lessen the gap. 

Diaphragmatic breathing can help bring back the connection of the tissue with the mind so that it starts firing automatically. Also, doing exercises that turn on our inner abdominal muscles such as modified dead bugs, bridges, and clamshells. Consistent breath work and core exercises will strengthen your abdominals and lessen back pain. 

Check out my two-week postpartum workout plan to help you get started. 

Do Planks Strengthen My Core?

Planks are a great exercise to perform for core strength, however in the postpartum period while working to rebuild your core, they may be too strenuous. If you see signs of coning or doming while doing planks, that is a sign of intolerance and you should not continue to do them. 

Can I Work Out 1 Month Postpartum?

You may be able to start working out one month postpartum if you had no complications during birth and are feeling well. The ACOG recommends starting exercise when you feel ready. If you are unsure, make sure to check with your doctor before starting a new routine. 

What Abdominal Movements Can I Do Postpartum?

Exercise Ball Breathing:

  • Begin sitting on an exercise ball (or a chair) with your feet on the floor, knees at 90°, and sitting up straight.
  • Put one hand on your chest and one hand on your stomach so you can feel the movement of your breath.
  • Inhale through your nose, expanding your stomach and your chest while relaxing your pelvic floor.
  • Exhale through your mouth, bringing your stomach in towards your spine and lifting your pelvic floor up and in. Audibly make a shh or hiss sound to help expel all the air and activate your pelvic floor. 
  • To feel if your pelvic floor is activating, put your index and middle fingers just inside your hip bones and feel a gentle activation of your muscles. 
  • Repeat for 10 breaths or 2 minutes. 
woman after birth breathing exercise

Supine Breathing:

  • Begin lying on your mat with your knees bent and your pelvis tucked, making sure your back is flat on the floor. 
  • Put your index and middle fingers just inside your hip bones to feel for the activation of your transverse abdominals.
  • Inhale through your nose, expanding your stomach and your chest while relaxing your pelvic floor.
  • Exhale through your mouth, bringing your stomach in towards your spine and lifting your pelvic floor up and in. Audibly make a shh or hiss sound to help expel all the air and activate your pelvic floor. 
  • Repeat for 10 breaths or 2 minutes.
postnatal woman core breathing exercise

Sidelying TA bracing:

  • Start on your right side with your right arm extended and your knees slightly bent, stacked on top of each other. Your head is resting on your right arm. 
  • Put your left index and middle fingers just inside your left hip bone to check for activation. 
  • Inhale through your nose, expanding your stomach and your chest while relaxing your pelvic floor.
  • Exhale through your mouth, bringing your stomach in towards your spine and lifting your pelvic floor up and in. Audibly make a shh or hiss sound to help expel all the air and activate your pelvic floor. 
  • Switch to the left side and repeat for 10 breaths or 2 minutes on each side.
post pregnancy woman core stabilizing exercise

TA March:

  • Begin lying on your back with your knees bent 90°.
  • Pull your belly button in toward your spine to brace your core and breathe normally.
  • You can place your hands on your hips pointing upwards to ensure they are not rotating during the movement.
  • Slowly lift one leg in the air, keeping the knees bent, stopping when your thigh is vertical.
  • Lower your leg back down and repeat on the other side. 
  • Repeat this for 20 repetitions, 10 on each leg. 
woman exercising postpartum

Rolling Bridge:

  • Begin on your back with your knees hip-width apart and bent 90°.
  • Inhale through your nose, expanding your stomach and your chest while relaxing your pelvic floor.
  • Exhale through your mouth, bringing your stomach in towards your spine and lifting your pelvic floor up and in. Audibly make a shh or hiss sound to help expel all the air and activate your pelvic floor. While exhaling, slowly bring your back off the floor one vertebrae at a time until your back is in a straight line
  • Slowly roll your back down to the floor one vertebrae at a time.
  • Repeat for 10 breaths or 2 minutes
after birth glute exercises for women

Modified Quad TA Bracing:

  • Start by sitting on your heels and having your hands on your mat shoulder-width apart. 
  • Make sure you have a neutral spine without any rib flaring or tilting your pelvis. 
  • Inhale through your nose, expanding your stomach and your chest while relaxing your pelvic floor.
  • Exhale through your mouth, bringing your stomach in towards your spine and lifting your pelvic floor up and in. Audibly make a shh or hiss sound to help expel all the air and activate your pelvic floor. 
  • Repeat for 10 repetitions.
woman breathing technique after birth

Bent Knee Fall Out:

  • Begin lying on your back with your knees bent and your back completely flat on the mat.
  • Brace your core by bringing the pelvic floor up and in, and breathe normally. 
  • Bring your right knee out about 45° or as far as it is comfortable for you while holding that brace and then bring it back to the center. 
  • You can place your hands on your hips pointing upwards to ensure they are not rotating during the movement. You want to focus the movement only on your legs. 
  • Alternate bringing your left and right legs out while keeping your core braced. If you don’t feel your core engaged anymore, reset and begin again. 
  • Perform this movement for 20 repetitions, 10 on each leg. 
exercise for diastasis recti

Clamshell with Bracing:

  • Begin lying on your right side with your right arm stretched out and your head resting on it. Your knees are bent 45° and stacked. 
  • Place your index and middle fingers in the inside of your left hip bone to check for engagement. 
  • Engage your core by pulling your stomach towards your spine and breathe normally.
  • While keeping your feet together, raise your left knee as high as you can without shifting your hips and keeping your right leg on the floor. 
  • Repeat for 10 repetitions and then perform the same this on the left side. 
woman exercising after birth

Deadbug- arms only:

  • Begin lying on your back with your arms straight above you and your lower back pressed into the floor. Bend your knees 90°.
  • Inhale through your nose, expanding your stomach and your chest while relaxing your pelvic floor.
  • Exhale through your mouth, bringing your stomach in towards your spine and lifting your pelvic floor up and in. Audibly make a shh or hiss sound to help expel all the air and activate your pelvic floor. Then, bring your right arm towards the floor above your head and then back to the starting position.
  • If you notice your back is coming off the floor during the reach, only bring your arm back as far as you can without lifting your back off the floor. 
  • Bring your left arm down to the floor towards your head and back to the starting position. 
  • Make sure you are keeping your legs at a 90° to avoid letting the core relax.
  • Repeat this for 10 repetitions on each arm, 20 total.  
core stabilizing exercise after pregnancy

One Leg Bridge Extension:

  • Begin on your back with your knees bent 90° hip-width apart.
  • Inhale through your nose, expanding your stomach and your chest while relaxing your pelvic floor.
  • Exhale through your mouth, bringing your stomach in towards your spine and lifting your pelvic floor up and in. Audibly make a shh or hiss sound to help expel all the air and activate your pelvic floor. While exhaling, bring your back off the floor until your back is in a straight line.
  • While keeping your core braced, lift your right leg until it is in a straight line. Avoid letting your right hip dip during the movement. 
  • Bring your right leg down and continue to brace while lifting the left leg. 
  • Bring your left leg down and lower your spine back to the floor.  
  • Repeat for 10 repetitions.
postnatal woman working out

Hip Hike:

  • Begin standing straight with your hands at your sides and your feet hip-width apart. 
  • Keep your left foot flat on the ground while pointing with your right toe creating a slight bend at the knee. 
  • Engage your core by pulling your stomach towards your spine and breathe normally.
  • Lift your right hip slightly causing your right foot to gently lift off the ground and then come back down. This movement is all in the hips and avoids lifting your leg. 
  • Perform 10 repetitions and then repeat on the left leg. 
woman exercising her core after birth

Wall Plank:

  • Begin facing a wall with your feet a few inches away from it, hip-width apart. 
  • Put your forearms on the wall shoulder-width apart, keeping your arms perpendicular to your shoulders. 
  • Keep a neutral spine, engage your core by pulling your stomach towards your spine, and breathe normally.
  • If this seems too easy, you can walk your feet out a little further from the wall with your arms in the same position. 
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds. 
post pregnancy woman strengthening her core

Eliminate the Mommy Pooch

Rebuilding your abdominal muscles after having a baby can help various pains and lose the dreaded mommy pooch. Work on adding these exercises into your day whenever possible. During nap time, while the baby is doing tummy time, waking up 15 minutes earlier, or going to bed 15 minutes later can set you on your way to a stronger core before you know it. For a more structured workout plan, grab my free two-week workout plan PDF.

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