For the past 9 months your body has moved through one of the most beautiful life changing transformations. The demands placed on a pregnant woman’s body are partly due to hormonal changes and to the physical strains that come with carrying the extra weight of a growing baby. Once the long journey has reached the end many woman are left with a body that may feel foreign to what they once knew.
This unchartered territory may seem like an uphill battle for most women post pregnancy and the need for a sliver of normalcy may seem out of reach. Three things to remember:
1. This is NORMAL and EXPECTED
2. Healing is natural and will take time
3. It is POSSIBLE to regain control of your body
The extra weight gain, pelvic girdle pain, low back pain, respiratory and cardiovascular changes along with abdominal and musculoskeletal changes round out the amazing transformation of pregnancy.
This is a lot to handle!
Fear not, there is hope. The most important muscle group to regain control of first is your CORE. Pregnancy wreaks havoc on your core. You haven’t completely lost the strength but your ability to engage and activate these muscles properly may seem impossible. Think of it as your core going into a 9-month hibernation period and we need to WAKE it up!
The core is made up of more then just that pretty six-pack that seems to be on everyone’s summer bucket list. Its contents include the abdominals as well as major muscle groups for pelvic floor, lower back and hips. The core embraces your abdominal cavity and encompasses your midsection allowing for optimal stabilization and support of your spine. It serves in many ways as the provider to injury prevention and pain free movement.
A strong core = strong body!
So you ask, what 3 exercises can I complete in my home, while my new bundle of joy is napping in order to WAKE my core up out of hibernation? Simple.
1. Kegal Ball Squeeze (3-way)
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Place a small medicine ball in between your knees. Your back should remain flat throughout this exercise. Contract your pelvic floor muscles and kegal (to help with contraction act as though you are blowing out candles) squeeze the ball and hold for five seconds.
- Repeat with bridge. Complete steps 1-3. Raise your hips off of the table by pushing up through your heels. Your butt should no longer be on the table. Hold for five seconds and repeat.
- With knees to chest, complete steps 1-3. Bring your knees to your chest slowly and controlled so your feet are off of the table.
2. Transverse Abdominal Knee Fallout
- Lie on your back with your knees bent. Keep your low back flat on the floor, and engage your lower abs by pulling your navel gently toward your spine. Engage your pelvic floor with a kegal.
- Fall out: Slowly let one knee fall out to the side and then return to center, maintaining pelvic and abdominal positioning. Repeat with opposite leg for one set; perform 20 repetitions. (Place finger on your hip bones, and make sure you don’t let your pelvis rotate side to side.)
- Lie on stomach, place elbows under shoulders, tighten/engage abs, and squeeze glutes together. Push up onto your forearms and toes so your body is parallel with the ground, keep elbows under your shoulders, make sure your back is flat. Hold position for as long as you can until you no longer feel it in your abs or you feel it in your back.
This is a good starting point to get your core activated and engaged. These are simple enough to do in the comfort of your own home and can easily be progressed. Remember, the body is an amazing thing and healing will occur over time. Listen to your body, rest appropriately and progress slowly.
Just like anything else it is a process, but with hard work and dedication you can use these exercises to rebuild the key muscle groups and speed up the process of waking up that core!