Just because you've had a baby doesn't mean you can't have strong, flat abs. Get rid of your post-baby pooch with the groundbreaking Tupler Technique.
After the initial excitement of bringing your brand-new baby home settles into a quiet contentment, you might start to notice a bulge in your belly that won't go away no matter how much you diet and exercise. That protruding belly could be caused by a diastasis, a separation of the outermost abdominal muscles that sometimes occurs during pregnancy. Unfortunately, the separation doesn't always disappear after you give birth. And left untreated, a diastasis will do nothing to ease the backaches you might continue to have after pregnancy.
Regaining your abdominal strength is crucial--those muscles support your back and help you avoid the aches and pains associated with the daily activities that come with motherhood. The following program can help. Based on the Tupler Technique, this unique series of exercises and safety tips will not only protect your back during day-to-day activities, it also will flatten your belly in no time.
Check with your physician before you start this or any other new physical activity. Most obstetricians recommend that a new mom wait six weeks after giving birth before beginning vigorous exercise, longer if she has had a Cesarean section.
Functional Moves The day-to-day stuff Taking care of your baby requires lifting, twisting and bending, all of which can make an abdominal separation bigger. Follow these easy tips to make sure you're moving correctly.
1. Breastfeeding Sit in a supportive chair and do Elevators (see slideshow below) while you nurse. Use a nursing pillow to bring the baby close to your breasts so you don't slouch. (Bottle-feeding moms will benefit from this too.) If you feel stiff afterward, do a Standing Pelvic Tilt (see slideshow below).
2. Getting out of bed Hold your transverse in and roll over on your side into a fetal position without lifting your head. Swing both legs over the side of the bed at the same time, and use your arms to help you sit up (your head should be the last thing up). Put both feet on the floor and stand up.
3. Heavy lifting To pick your baby up off the floor, get down on one knee, draw in your transverse, put her on your front thigh, then lift her to your shoulder. Holding the baby with one hand, place the other hand on your front thigh for support as you stand. To get your baby out of her car seat, sit next to her and draw your transverse in while you lift her onto your lap. Swing both feet onto the ground and hold your transverse as you stand up with the baby held close to your chest. To get your baby in or out of a stroller, squat in front of it and slide the baby in or out.
4. Wearing a baby carrier or sling If you have an abdominal separation, you should wear a splint (see "How to Check for a Diastasis," in the box to the left) when using a front carrier because the baby's weight could pull your abdominal muscles farther apart. Slings allow you to shift the baby's weight from side to side; alternate sides each time you use it.
Tupler Technique Basics It's not only important to breathe correctly when you exercise, it's also crucial to learn how to properly draw in your abdominal muscles before you do any activity, such as picking up your baby. By doing so, you use the transversus abdominis ("the transverse"), the innermost muscle that wraps around your abdomen and back like a corset. Strengthening the transverse protects your back and gives your belly a flatter appearance. The basis of the Tupler Technique is isolating the transverse. Here's how:
The action of the transverse is front to back. Imagine your transverse is a sideways elevator with six floors. Take a deep breath through your nose as you expand you belly and fill your lungs. Exhale through your mouth and empty your lungs as you bring your transverse muscle back toward your spine to the "sixth floor." Hold this position before you do any exercise moves and/or activities such as lifting.