As I’ve sat at the baby pool this summer, there’s one giant difference that stands out from my pre-baby life and it’s not the obvious one: The loud screaming kids running all over the place splashing cold water on me before I’ve even put my bags down. It’s the number of one-piece bathing suits – and not just on the kids. See, even when (if?) we get our pre-baby bodies back, there are plenty of women who still aren’t comfortable in their favorite two-piece bathing suit. Even if we lose the baby weight, start exercising again, and mostly get back in pre-baby shape, there’s one thing that’s hard for us moms to truly reclaim: our abs.
Long gone are the days of washboard abs (OK, who am I kidding?) and taught tummies. Instead, we’re a little looser, a little squishier, and a lot weaker when it comes to our core.
In defense of moms everywhere, it’s not our fault.
Think about what pregnancy does to your abs from a physiological stand point. They’re stretched out beyond oblivion, constantly being pushed, strained, and stretched for the better part of pregnancy. For some women, the ab muscles can literally separate down the middle to make room for that growing baby and your growing belly. There’s just only so much stretching they can take. Hormonal changes help make that possible. Hormones, such as relaxin, help things loosen and, well, relax.
Unfortunately, there’s no magic hormone that comes in after that fact to save the day and put all the pieces back together again. That’s all up to us. It takes patience (you can’t start working those abs right after giving birth, trust me), hard work, and persistence. It helps if you know what you’re doing. A thousand crunches a day probably couldn’t give you your pre-baby abs back. Crunches and sit-ups alone don’t target all of the many muscles that make up our core (and “six pack look”). But that doesn’t mean it’s a hopeless case. By adding in some non-crunch moves that focus on some of the other core muscles, you can get your abs back. Here are some tips and favorite abdominal exercises from personal trainers that are also moms – meaning they’ve been there, done that.
Post-Baby Abdominal Exercises and Tips:
Your abs are never the same after having kids, but here are a few ways to work on getting them back, plus how to keep them that way once you do.
Tip #1: Make modifications when starting out to find what works for you
“As a Pilates instructor, I’m a fan of moves like the hundred, teaser, and roll up. There are tons more moves, of course, and it’s important to make modifications when you’re first starting out.” – Laura Baker of FitMamaLove
Laura’s ab exercises to try:
Tip #2: Choose ground-to-stand exercises that work the entire core
“I think that ground-to-stand exercises are GREAT for the core! Think burpees, turkish get-ups which work the entire core, test balance, AND burn max calories!” – Lindsay Wright of Lindsay’s List
Lindsay’s exercises to try:
Tip #3: Use resistance bands to work on “splitting abs”
“I love using a looped resistance band or bungee ropes for standing ab bends. I started doing them early into my pregnancy when I started getting ‘splitting abs’ and it totally strengthened my whole core and stopped my abs from splitting!” – Kim Ludeman of Trainer-Kim
Kim’s exercise to try:
And here are some additional moves to try: