My son is three months old and beautiful. However, I now have a ‘mummy tummy’. I used to have a six-pack and I am keen to get it back, however, I feel I have to be patient. Realistically it might take nine months to regain my abs.
In the third trimester I developed pubic symphysis dysfunction which meant that it was painful to walk. The ligaments in my pelvis had too much relaxin which meant that the pelvic bone was not stable. Even now, three months after giving birth if I am too active I can feel pain from the pelvis being unstable. It takes six months or so for the body to be free of the relaxin after giving birth. I have to be cautious until my body has fully recovered. It is funny to see people advertising boot camps for new mums with lots of stretching and intense aerobic exercise — really, are you sure? I don’t think so.
I am expressing breast milk for my son and trying to eat really healthily. That feels the right thing to do, and something I like doing. However, it means I need to eat properly and enough. Cutting back on what I am eating is going to reduce my son’s milk supply. It doesn’t matter what people say to the contrary, it does reduce your milk supply. The good thing about expressing is you can see how much milk your baby is getting. When he is six months old he will start to eat food as well as drink breast milk so I have to wait until he is a bit older to diet.
I always strived to have the most healthy pregnancy and birth. I wanted to have a water birth at the local birthing centre, shunning a hospital birth. The reality was a c-section at the local hospital. This has left my lower abdominal muscles ridiculously weak. It is going to take a lot of work to regain the strength I used to have.
After having a c-section you can lose lots of blood, and after the operation my iron levels were ridiculously low. This meant that I felt really exhausted after he was born. I still feel really tired as not having a decent nights sleep in three months does catch up with you. So, I think you need to be patient and kind to yourself after having a baby. You need to focus on recovering and conserving your energy for the first few months.
I have just started to train at the gym when I can, which is just three times a week. The exercises I am doing to regain my abdominal tone include:
Tummy Suck on all Fours progressing to Plank on Knees – I started off managing to do 20 second tummy sucks on all fours and that was challenging. Then I moved onto the plank on the knees which I could do for 20 seconds. Now I can do a 2 minute plank on the knees. I used to manage a 15 minute full plank, so I’ve lost lots of strength.
Cycling for Lower Abs – My lower abs are ridiculously weak just now and I can’t do full cycling for lower abs. My muscles are too weak just now to lower my legs almost down to the ground. However, I am focusing on this, and I am sure it will get stronger. The muscle has been cut with the c-section so it will be weak, I just didn’t expect it to be quite so weak.
Standing Side Bends – I am keeping the weight really light just now and doing 20 reps on each side. It feels good to be exercising again!
Swiss Ball Curls – I am doing a few curls over the swiss ball for upper abs, although my focus is on strengthening my lower abs.
Opposite Hand and Leg on all Fours – I am strengthening my lower back gently with this exercise.
After having a baby you realise you need to train at least three times a week to make any difference to your overall strength and fitness level.
When my son is six months old I will start to diet and train almost daily as I plan to have an au-pair then to help look after him. It should be easier at this point to regain my abs as he will not be solely drinking breast milk and this means I can diet to lose the baby fat. Also by then I am hoping I will have no relaxin in my body, so I will be able to train more intensely. Let’s see how I get on. 🙂