Post-baby core-strengthening exercise need to be easy and approachable.
Below, I list three of my favorite, easy, post-baby core strengthening moves.
BONUS! the first two can be done immediately after your baby is born (as soon as you feel ready).
These moves target the transverse abdominis muscles, the deepest layer of muscles in our core.
Post-Baby Core Strength Exercise 1: Lower Transverse Engagement
This first exercise is great for when you just had a baby and are spending lots of time lying in bed nursing.
- Lying on your back, bend your knees, and place the feet flat on the floor.
- Notice your breath and allow it to deepen.
- Place the heel of your hands on your ASIS bones (those bones at the front of the hips) and let the fingers rest on the low belly.
- As you inhale, let everything relax.
- As you exhale, you are going to imagine your ASIS bones drawing together toward the middle of your lower abdomen to engage your low belly. (Watch the video if you are confused!)
With some practice, you should feel the soft part of your belly (also known as your lower transverse) firm up slightly as you exhale.
You may also feel the pelvic floor engage, co-contracting with your lower transverse.
If you don’t feel that, don’t worry about it. Just keep practicing and focusing on relaxing on the inhale and engaging with the exhale.
Post-Baby Core Strength Exercise 2: Seated Transverse Engagement
In the second exercise, we will focus on transverse engagement while seated.
- Seated on a chair, find a neutral pelvis position where your sit bones connect to the chair.
- Slide yourself back against the back of the chair so that your core doesn’t have to hold you upright.
- Again, we are going to use our breath. As you inhale, let the belly relax.
- As you exhale, think about those transverse muscles that make up the ‘corset’ of your body engaging which will pull your belly gently inward.. They wrap from the back of your spine all the way to the front. And reach from your ribs down to your public bone.
As they engage, you should feel like you get taller and longer not like you are crouching or crunching.
Finding this feeling can take practice so, give it some time!
Post-Baby Core Strength Exercise 3: 90/90 Breathing and Transverse Engagement
For the third exercise, I want you to return to your back. If you have a yoga block at home, grab that and bring it to the floor with you. This Technique is called 90/90 breathing because your legs create 90 degree angles at your hips and knees.
- Take your legs slightly wider than your knees and internally rotate your legs just a bit. If you have one, take the block between your knees.
- Now, find your breath.
- As you inhale, everything relaxes. Try to inhale very deeply to prepare for a nice, long, exhale.
- As you exhale, draw the pelvic floor up first. Continue exhaling and draw those hip bones together to engage your low belly. Keep exhaling and move the engagement even higher into the middle/upper transverse. Eventually, you may even feel like your upper transverse abdominals pull your ribs down so they come in line with the hips.
- Then take a deep inhale and relax everything, and begin engaging again on the exhale from the bottom up again. Pelvic floor, low belly, mid belly, upper belly, ending with a big inhale.
If this simple version is very available to you, you can try giving the block a bit of a squeeze on the exhale to increase engagement.
A quick safety note: if you feel any pressure down on your pelvic floor while doing the 90/90, ease up and work on balancing or strengthening your pelvic floor first.
There they are! 3 simple core-strengthening exercises.
Keep in mind…with postpartum core-strengthening there are two factors to consider.
The first is general strength, which we focused on in these exercises today. This creates an excellent foundation for your core-health. However, it isn’t the only piece. If you ONLY focus on core strengthening exercises, your core will only be strong when you do those types of movements. You will be missing a key part of core health.
The second, often overlooked, factor is core function. You want to make sure that your core strength translates to functional movements like twisting, reaching, and bending. Functional strength allows you to move through your day with strength and ensures you don’t damage your core through every day movements.
Yoga is an amazing tool for both general and functional core strength because it takes your body through a full range of movement under controlled conditions.
When we combine these two factors – general and functional core strength – your core will be strong in ANY situation or position you throw at it.