Post-delivery Crunches & Exercises

Stomach crunches exercise

So you want to get back into shape. Hold on a moment. Did you have a normal delivery or a cesarean delivery? In either case, you must consult your doctor before you get into an exercise routine. Especially, if you have had a cesarean delivery.

You see, pregnancy splits your abdominal muscles right down the middle. And it is vital that you ensure your muscles have healed before you engage in any vigorous abdominal exercise. Crunches and stretches for example.

You can, however, begin exercises to tone your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles as soon as you are ready. If you have had an episiotomy (cut in the perineum to widen the opening during the delivery) pelvic floor exercises can help to speed your recovery. This also applies for tares. Have your doctor take you step-by-step here.

Tummy Exercise

To start with, you can tone your tummy by performing an exercise that strengthens the transversus abdominus, the deepest muscle layer. You can perform these exercises lying down, sitting or standing.

  • Keep your lower back flat
  • Breathe out, and draw your belly button back towards your spine
  • Your lower back shouldn’t flex or move
  • Hold this position and breathe lightly
  • Count to 10
  • Relax, and repeat up to 10 times per set
  • Do 10 sets – as many times per day as you can
  • You may like to do your pelvic floor exercises at the same time

More Tummy Exercise

Once the gap in your abdominal muscles has closed, you can progress to more demanding exercises. Here again, you must have the go ahead from your doctor.

    • Lie on your back, with bent knees and both feet on the floor
    • Put your hands on your thighs
    • Breathe out and contract your abdominal muscles
    • Lift your head and shoulders off the floor
    • Slide your hands towards your knees
    • Keep your head and shoulders stable
    • Hold position
    • Then slowly ease your shoulders and head back to the floor
    • Repeat up to 10 times for one set
    • Perform three sets per session
    • You may like to do your pelvic floor exercises at the same time

Lower Abdominal Exercises

The lower abdominal muscles are located below your belly button. But before you start this exercise, make sure your abdominal muscles have healed. If not do only the tummy exercises mentioned above.

      • Lie on your back with your knees bent and both feet flat on the floor
      • Contract your abdominal muscles
      • Slowly slide your feet away from you, aiming to straighten both legs
      • Straighten your legs without arching your lower back
      • If your back starts to arch, stop
      • Slide your feet back towards your bottom
      • Aim for 10 repetitions per set
      • Perform around three sets per session

As your lower abdominal muscles get stronger, you’ll be able to slide your feet further and further away. But make sure you don’t arch your lower back or the exercise will not be effective.

Pelvic Floor Exercises

The pelvic floor muscles are the muscles that you contract to stop urinating. Childbirth can weaken these muscles and cause problems such as incontinence later in life. To exercise these muscles, you must do the following:

      • Relax your abdominal muscles. Don’t bear down or hold your breath
      • Gradually squeeze and increase the tension until you have contracted the muscles as hard as you can
      • Release gently and slowly. Then perform the rest of the exercises as below:
      • Squeeze slowly and hold for between five and 10 seconds.
      • Release slowly. Repeat 10 times
      • Perform quick, short and hard squeezes. Repeat 10 times
      • Squeeze, then clear your throat or cough lightly. Repeat three times.
      • Aim for five or six sets each day

These exercises can be performed lying down, sitting or standing.