Most moms know exactly what I mean when I say “pooch”. I am not talking about their cute little dog, but that wonderful little below the belly button area that seems to collect fat that refuses to go away after having a baby. If you never had a problem in that area before you had a baby, most likely you can add it to your list of “areas of concern” now. It is possible to get a nice flat and toned tummy again by coupling cardio, diet and core specific exercises (no crunches necessary!).
Cardio is key for burning calories and thus fat. Once you get the green light from your doctor to begin exercise again, start adding cardio sessions in as much as possible. When you have a baby at home every day’s schedule will be different, so be patient with yourself and work exercise in when you can. 10 minute sessions throughout the day works just as well as one longer session, so be flexible with yourself! Once you have been back to exercising for a while try adding intervals to your cardio workouts. They are great at blasting fat and better at EPOC (post exercise oxygen consumption) which is when your body continues to burn calories at a higher rate post exercise.
The abdominal muscles are pretty stretched out after having a baby even if you continued exercising while pregnant. If the muscles are not strengthened not only will you have a pooch, but you will most likely have lower back aches as well. Strengthening the core muscles will make lifting and carrying your baby and all the heavy gear that they require easier and leave you less tired and sore at the end of the day. Here are a couple of exercises you can begin with soon after birth. If you have just had a baby the first exercises to start with are Kegels. These focus on strengthening your pelvic floor muscles and can be done right after birth. To do these, engage the muscles that would stop the flow of urine. Start with 10 at a time and work your way up 20-30. Another great beginner exercise is practicing breathing exercises while focusing on your transverse abdominus (the deepest band of muscle in our bellies that act as our natural girdle). To find your transverse, take a deep breath in and while exhaling pull your navel to your spine. The muscle that allows you to pull your navel in is the transverse abdominus. This can be done lying down, seated or standing making it a great beginner exercise. This exercise will help pull in your tummy. Try to do a few sets of 10 throughout the day when you remember.
After 6 weeks or so you may be ready to tackle more difficult core exercises. Stabilization exercises are best for building a strong core. Planks (modified on your knees first), quadriped, leg lowers are great ones to add to your workouts. Working on a stability ball, balance disk or Bosu will also work your core. Toning exercises actually do help with tightening the loose skin as well. This will take time, so be patient. Make sure to take it slow when doing these exercises, and never sacrifice good form.
In addition, we all know a healthy diet is key to revealing our ab muscles again. Be sure to eat plenty of lean meats, fruits, vegetables and limit those treats. You don’t want all of your hard work to be canceled out by a poor diet.
Lastly, be patient with your body! Having a baby is the biggest physical feat you will most likely ever encounter. It will take time to recover no matter what you hear in all the celebrity magazines. Enjoy this time with your baby! Be diligent in taking time for yourself and working out, and your tummy can be flat again.
Check out my articles below on more specific exercises you can do to attack the post baby belly.