After having your first baby your body will have undergone many new changes and no more so than around your abdominal and core area and this area becomes a major focus for mums trying to lose their belly fat and pregnancy weight gain.
The core area is made up of 4 major muscles that support the lower spine which allow you to bend forwards, sideways and backwards – all very important movements for mums with babies and young kids running around.
“The core” is made up of 4 major muscles with the most well known muscle being the Rectus Abdominis, otherwise know as the “6 pack” which is a superficial outer muscle that allows us to to flex forward and pick up objects off the floor.
The External Obliques are positioned either side of the Rectus Abdominis which help when bending forwards and backwards and the Internal Obliques which are positioned on the sides of the lower back which aid in side bending and twisting movements. Lastly and most importantly the Transverse Abdominis (commonly known as the TVA) is the deepest of the 4 core muscles and it acts as a corset to the spine allowing it to remain strong and stable – if your TVA is weak your risk of injury and back pain is greatly increased.
You will usually be checked for diastasis rectus abdominis while you are in hospital or at home, just after you have had your baby. If you are unsure whether you have been checked or not, you can do the following check yourself.
- Lay on your back on a hard surface, bend the knees to place both feet flat on the floor.
- Place two fingers on or above the belly button, with the palm of your hand facing you.
- Hold the abdominals tight.
- Lift the head and shoulders off the floor.
- Push down on the stomach between the muscles, see how many fingers you can fit it the hole between your muscles (if any)?
- Only once two fingers fit in the space, abdominal work can be started again.
- If more than two fingers can be placed in this gap then you must continue with more core stability work.
Always seek advise from your medical professional before beginning any new exercise program. Take it slowly and gradually build up your strength. It will take time for your body to return to its pre pregnancy shape and condition so be patient.
Written by the Lose Baby Weight personal Trainer John Allen, Certificate 3 and 4 Personal trainer from the Australian Institute of Fitness