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Rebuilding Your Core After Pregnancy

Lose the Pooch with These Exercises
-- By Catherine Cram, M.S.

A common concern among new mothers is how to get rid of their jelly bellies and regain flatter, more toned stomachs. For some women, re-strengthening their core seems an easy task, but for most it is an uphill battle that takes many months, even years. With proper exercise and diet the process is not as hard as many think. In fact, depending on your delivery method, there are specific exercises you can do to speed up your body's recovery.

How Early Is Too Early?
Many women want to resume intense exercise as soon after birth as possible, before their abdominal muscles or pelvic floor are ready. This may lead to incontinence problems and prolonged back pain, sometimes due to diastisis recti (a stretching of the midline of the abdominal muscles) that was not corrected. With proper training, and beginning as early as 24-48 hours after birth, you can avoid many problems and work toward rebuilding and toning your body the right way. If you've done a good deal of abdominal work and exercised throughout your pregnancy, this process will be easier, but if you were sedentary, you can still achieve good results.

Proper nutrition and a gradual return to other forms of exercise (walking, jogging, weight lifting) are just as important in restoring the body to its pre-pregnancy state. You'll never see a "six pack" if a layer of fat is overlays it. Weight loss and fitness take patience, time, and discipline; if things are pushed too soon, other problems can arise. It can take 6-12 weeks to return to a pre-pregnancy state - sometimes longer - so don't give up!

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Member Comments About this Article
"For those who are wondering about the diastasis recti - whether or not it goes back depends on the severity of it. I had a 6 pack before my first, with my second, the diastasis recti never fully closed, and I ended up with a little bit of a hernia right around my belly button. NOw with the third, I can tell right away that my abdomen has separated. I do not believe mine can be corrected w/o surgery. I workout faithfully & have done pilates, anti cellulite cream, support & shaper shorts, etc., an..." -- LYRACH
"There is a great Pilates Ball Exercise DVD to help rebuild those core muscles after pregnancy at this website:


Just click on the Pilates Ball DVD tab on the right." -- JENANDCHRIS
"I had the diastasis recti (in fact, the doctor and NP couldn't stop commenting on it during both of my pregnancies)... and with the first pregnancy, it went back to normal, as well as my Loosy goosey skin (stretch marks just looked like faint scars though, so I don't wear 2 piece swim suits anymore...sigh..). With this second pregnancy, it's taking longer to get my muscles back to normal (Sammy was bigger than his brother), and my skin is much looser. I have been putting a cellulite repair lotio..." -- LYRACH
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About The Author
Catherine Cram
Cathy Cram, M.S., has worked in the field of prenatal and postpartum fitness for more than a decade. Her goal is to help women have the healthiest pregnancies possible.


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