If you've had a baby, you're more than likely familiar with all the changes your body goes through, like morning sickness, heartburn, an aversion to all scents and foods, sciatica, expanding hips — you get the point. Another common change you may have experienced is the separation of your abdominal muscles, called diastasis recti.
"Diastasis recti occurs when pressure from the growing uterus causes the rectus abdominis (the six-pack muscles) to spread sideways, overstretching the connective tissue that runs along the center of the abdomen," Leah Keller, ACE-certified trainer and creator of the Every Mother EMbody Program told POPSUGAR.
According to Leah, diastasis recti can leave women with "bulging" or "coning/protruding" abs, back pain, incontinence, and pelvic organ prolapse. While you may be tempted to return to ab-strengthening exercises like planks, "To safely rebuild core strength and restore function, it's important to pivot your approach to core training," Leah said. This means avoiding exercises that "bulge the abdominal wall forward or thrust the rib cage apart," like a crunch, until your abs have healed.
To help you rebuild your core strength, Leah created a quick and gentle 15-minute ab workout. Before performing this workout, or participating in any postnatal exercise, be sure to get cleared by your medical provider. For more workouts from Leah, check out her exclusive pre- and postpartum workouts on Glow.
The 15-Minute Postpartum Ab Workout
Equipment needed: one lightweight dumbbell; 2.5 to five pounds is a good starting point.
- Waist anchor in twist: complete slow, controlled repetitions for one minute on each side. Complete this sequence three times.
- Single-leg lift: complete slow, controlled repetitions for one minute on each side. Complete this sequence three times.
- Waist cincher: complete slow, controlled repetitions for one minute with your left hand on your stomach. Repeat for one minute with your right hand on your stomach.