Almost every woman puts on weight during pregnancy and lactation. And her tummy muscles also separate. Which results in a larger belly, even if you succeed in losing all the weight that you gained.
The separation of your abdominal muscles is completely normal, in order to make room for your baby. And it can take several months for them to close up again after you’ve given birth. In fact, the muscles can remain separated permanently, unless you reduce your weight to what it was before you became pregnant, and do the right exercises to strengthen your abdomen.
Before you start, check your muscle separation. Lying on your back, lift your head and shoulders slightly off of the floor and push your fingers down onto your belly button. If your fingers sink into your abdomen, you have a separation of your abdominal muscles. Move your fingers above and below your belly button to feel the different degrees of separation in different areas. Becoming familiar with your degree of separation will help you track your progress.
It’s also important to do the right exercises. Because the traditional abdominal exercises like crunches, sit-ups and planks can make the separation worse. Any exercises that cause the abdominal muscle to bulge away from the body – put your hand on your stomach to feel it for yourself – puts additional pressure on those already weak abdominal muscles.
Only once your separation is reduced, you can add these exercises back into your routine, but it is important to avoid them until the separation is reduced.
A first exercise, to begin with, is to lie on your back, knees bent, with the arch of your back pressed against the ground – you want a flat spine. Place your hand on your belly and take a deep breath, trying to expand your abdominal muscles to push your hand up and away from the floor. As you exhale, contract your abdominal muscles and pull your belly button towards your spine. Repeat ten times, and repeat throughout the day.
Next, add the ‘pelvic tilt’ to the same position on your back with your knees bent. Curl your hips towards your ribcage while contracting your abs and pressing your lower back into the ground. This works both your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles.
There are lots more exercises you can add to your routine – just search YouTube for ‘exercises to reduce abdominal separation.’
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