A lot of people have been asking how to flatten my abs after having a baby. Actually, well most of you guys have…
This is probably the number one concern that you have at this point in time.
Before I launch into the top five ways, lets get a little perspective on the situation.
Over the last 9 months your abdominal muscles and all of the connective tissue around them have been slowly stretched. If you were to stretch any muscle in the body it causes an inhibitory effect. This means that it relaxes the muscle and decreases the amount of activation in it.
For example, if you were to stretch your back of your leg, the hamstrings, for a 2 minute hold. This is enough of an inhibitory effect to maintain that stretch for 3-4 hours.
Now lets talk about a 9 month stretch…
Do you see where I am coming from?
It takes time for these muscles to regain the elastic recoil for them to ‘bounce back’. So all of this talk about bouncing back…grrr!!
So it will take time and it will also take patience…not the two things you want to hear right now.
However, there are a number of things which can really help the process along its way.
- Be kind to your digestive system.
If your digestive system is upset or irritated in any way it can cause a neurological inhibition effect on your deep abdominals (your tranverse abdominals). These are the deep abdominals that tend to tighten the core and help to stabilise the pelvis and lower back. They also help to flatten your abs in general.
Some people react to certain foods and may have intolerances to them. Any small intolerance may just stop the deep abs from working. I’m not talking a lot, but enough to shut things down a little.
So to be kind, I mean firstly identifying certain foods that don’t work for you. If you eat something and it upsets your stomach, or you get bloated from it, then you might need to cut down on that. Also high sugar and/or caffeine may effect you and your stomach lining.
If you have had a C-section, you would have been given an antibiotic. So you might want to think about having a good quality probiotic to reline the stomach with good bacteria.
It is really a matter of being very aware of what works and doesn’t work for you.
- Drink More Water
This is very much linked to my first point. But water is such a key thing that people just don’t drink enough.
It helps with the digestive system, especially after a C-section where you may be a little constipated. Actually after any type of delivery, anything which makes pooing easier is a good thing.
If the digestive system is a little backed up you will find it harder to activate the key abdominal muscles again.
A good formula to use is:
Your bodyweight in kg x 0.033 = litres of water a day
If you are breastfeeding you can also add up to 500ml more to this equation to may sure your milk supply doesn’t dry out.
- Keep a food diary
Yes, something as simple as writing your food intake down has a massive bearing on what you do eat and the aware it creates.
However, I am not saying that this is a time for crazy diets. Far from it!
It is a time for healthy eating and trying to cut down a little on the crap.
Creating an awareness around food will help you to stop creating bad eating habits. Sometimes, you are just not aware of what you are eating and why.
Well actually we all probably know the why… a new baby and no bloody sleep…
The brain just tells you that it needs energy. The simplest form of energy is sugar…say no more!
Again, sugar will mess up the digestive system which causes the deep abdominals to shut down. Sugar will mess things up from the whole body in many ways…but that is for another email.
So being aware of what you are eating and the effect is has on the body is a game changer.
- Stop doing Crunches!!!
As you may have guessed, I am not a big fan of crunches. I am especially not a big fan of crunches in the postnatal period.
To demonstrate my point you may just have to lie down. Of course, just lying down on your side and rolling over on to your back to decrease too much intra-abdominal pressure…mmm.
From here, it you were to place both hand on your abdominal wall and perform a “very partial” crunch.
So what do you find happens?
If you are like most new mums, you would most likely find that your stomach pushes out. The reason for this is that there is an imbalance between your deep abs and your external abdominals. Your external abdominals (the rectus abdominus) is quite strong and dominant and therefore takes over the movement.
All this does is pushes the abs out and stops the deep abdominals from doing their job. Not great from a pure function point of view and not great aesthetically either.
- Ask for help
When something in your house breaks down, you call someone. When you have a problem with your teeth, you go to the dentist. When your car breaks down, you go to a mechanic.
So why is it when you need help to fix your body, you just want to do it yourself.
Or worse, you search Instagram for the answers. Don’t get me wrong. There are a lot of good people doing some great things on Instagram.
But there is also a load of ….
Please don’t follow some celebrities latest exercise. I have seen some who have just had a baby and what they were doing actually scares me. Not only because what they were doing could actually harm them, but their thousands of followers might be doing the same thing.
If you want help to flatten your abs…ask!
It doesn’t have to be me, but whoever you do ask, make sure that they are bloody good at what they do and are qualified to give you the correct information.
Not just your local personal trainer that may just had a baby. Being a mum doesn’t automatically qualify you to know what exercises are right for you.
So hopefully this has been helpful. Try to implement these things into your already busy schedule and let me know how you get on.
If you want further help, I will be running my Post Baby Kick-Start course soon. Numbers are limited, so if you are keen just contact me for more details.
Good luck with it all.