Postnatal Abdominal Exercises
After pregnancy, most new moms are eager to get their stomachs back into shape quickly. But going to the gym and doing a lot of crunches isn't effective or healthy. New moms should avoid crunches and focus on strengthening the transverse abdominal muscle. Keep in mind that the stomach muscles can be delicate following birth, so the best thing is to ease into it gradually.
Begin lying on your back with your hands resting at your sides, palms facing down. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. On an inhale slowly lift the pelvis up towards the ceiling. Pause for a moment at the top and then lower. Perform 10 to 15 repetitions. For an added challenge, hold for three to five seconds at the top of each repetition.
Begin lying on the floor with your hands resting at your side or underneath your hips, palms facing down. On an inhale, lift your right leg about 10 inches off the floor and pause and then lower it back down on an exhale. When the right leg touches the floor, lift the left leg up 10 inches above the floor, pause and then exhale bringing the leg back down to the floor. Repeat on both sides for 10 to 15 repetitions.
Straight Leg Lift
Begin lying on the floor with your hands resting at your sides or underneath your hips, palms facing down. On an inhale, draw your knees into your chest, and then straighten your legs into the air at a 90-degree angle from your body. Keeping your legs together in one solid unit, slowly lower them to floor. Draw your knees into your chest again and repeat. For a little added challenge, you can try lowering your legs to only 2 inches above the floor, instead of all the way down to the floor, and then repeating the movement. Perform 10 repetitions.
Bicycle is a little more challenging, so only perform this exercise after you have built up some strength in your abdominal muscles. Lie on the floor on your back and interlace your fingers behind your head. Draw your shoulders off the floor, contracting your abdominal muscles. Bend your right knee and stretch your left leg out straight, holding it a few inches off the ground. Bring your left elbow to your right knee. Bring the head back to center, bend the left knee and straighten the right leg. Bring the right elbow to the left knee. Repeat this 10 times on each side.
- nd3000/iStock/Getty Images