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6 Simple Exercises to Cure Diastasis Recti

Photograph by mom.me

Many moms can't wait for their six-week postpartum checkup so that they can finally start exercising again, but while there is tons of advice on sex after birth, many doctors fail to warn their patients about the dangers of traditional exercise.

Yoga, Pilates, jogging, sit-ups and crunches, believe it or not, can all cause mommy tummy, that flabby muffin top that haunts many new mothers even long after they lost their pregnancy weight. Luckily there are some simple exercises that can help heal your stomach and get you flat abs without surgery.

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The reason traditional exercises don't work for new moms is that during pregnancy, stomach muscles were weakened and stretched, often leading to a diastasis recti —a split in the connective tissue between the abdominal muscles, which causes the skin to sag and your innards to be pushed outward, which can have you looking pregnant months and even years after you've given birth. If you're not sure you have it, count the number of times people have asked if you're expecting and add the number of times your pants wouldn't zip up, or simply follow these instructions.

Below are a series of tummy-safe exercises you can do to start healing your body, improve your posture and prevent injury from future pregnancies. If you have a large diastasis recti, there are also a number of online programs and DVDs available that offer six- to ten-week courses for complete rehabilitation.

Core Contractions

Standing or lying flat, focus your attention on the center of your abdomen, take a deep breath, and pull your stomach muscles into that central point. Hold for five breaths and release. Repeat 20 times, and then slowly work your way up to longer periods. If your diastasis recti is in the top of the abdomen, make sure you focus on pull that in, rather than working on your lower abs.

Leg Lifts

Lying flat on your back, suck in your stomach and pull your legs up into a 45° angle. Slowly extend one leg while you exhale, and pull it back in on the inhale, keeping your core engaged and your lower back flat at all times. Repeat 15 times on each side.

Glute Bridge

Lying flat on your back, suck in your stomach and pull your legs up into a 45° angle. Place a folded towel or small pillow between your knees, and lift your butt into the air. Make sure to keep your stomach tucked in. Hold for a count of five and release. Repeat 20 times, working up to 20 reps of ten seconds each.

Yoga Ball Pelvic Tilts

Sit on a yoga ball, tuck in your abdomen and gently roll backwards, pushing your pelvic area forwards. Keep your core engaged and your stomach tucked in. As your release, keep your core strong and sit up tall. Hold ten seconds in each position, and repeat each set 25 times.

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Modified Walking

When you take Baby for a walk, be sure to keep your core engaged and your stomach tucked in at all times. Every five minutes, focus on keeping your core tight and raising your knees twice as high as you normally would. Walk this way for one minute, then resume your normal step.

Modified Biceps Curls

Standing against a wall or sitting on a bench, engage your core and do your biceps curl, always focusing on keeping your stomach tightly tucked. This will retrain your muscles to support the abdomen while doing upper body exercises. Repeat 15 times at first, then work your way up to 25 times.

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