Fact checkedExpert's opinion

Expert's opinion

The article is a subjective view on this topic written by writers specializing in medical writing.
It may reflect on a personal journey surrounding struggles with an illness or medical condition, involve product comparisons, diet considerations, or other health-related opinions.

Although the view is entirely that of the writer, it is based on academic experiences and scientific research they have conducted; it is fact-checked by a team of degreed medical experts, and validated by sources attached to the article.

The numbers in parenthesis (1,2,3) will take you to clickable links to related scientific papers.

Postpartum Ab Workout: 7 Exercises For A Stronger Core In 2024

Christine VanDoren

Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Kathy Shattler, MS, RDN

postpartum ab workout
Postpartum ab workouts are great for strengthening your core. Photo: Shutterstock

After giving birth, many new moms are eager to get back into shape and regain their pre-pregnancy bodies. A postpartum ab workout can be a great way to help tone and strengthen the abdominal muscles.

You can try a fat burner, but it’s probably best to use a postpartum belly workout instead or in addition. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the best postpartum ab workouts for new moms and some things to consider before starting an exercise routine.

7 Postpartum Core Exercises To Increase Core Strength

The following ab exercises are great for strengthening the core post-pregnancy:

  1. Pelvic Tilt.
  2. Single-Leg Extension.
  3. Kegels.
  4. Plank.
  5. Side Plank.
  6. The Bird Dog.
  7. The Dead Bug.

7 Best Postpartum Ab Workouts For New Moms

Pelvic Tilt

postpartum ab workout
The Pelvic Tilt is great for women postpartum. Photo: Shutterstock

The Pelvic Tilt is a simple yet effective exercise targeting the deep core muscles, including the lower abdominal and pelvic floor. This exercise can help improve posture, reduce lower back pain, and strengthen the abdominal muscles after pregnancy.

Instructions:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  2. Take a deep inhale while drawing your abs in. Slightly tuck your pelvis under while you squeeze your glutes and perform a Kegel. Hold for five to ten seconds while breathing normally.
  3. Exhale as you return to the starting position.
  4. Do ten reps.

Single-Leg Extension

The Single-Leg Extension is an exercise that targets the lower abdominals and hip flexors. It’s a great exercise for improving core stability and strength and toning the abdominal muscles. 

Instructions:

  1. Lay on your back and have your knees bent and feet planted on the floor with your arms resting at your side, palms down.
  2. Straighten one leg and lower it towards the floor while your other knee stays bent.
  3. Bring the straight leg back to the initial tabletop position.
  4. Build up to 20 reps on each side to achieve the best results.

Kegels

Kegels are an exercise that targets the pelvic floor muscles and is often used for pelvic organ prolapse. These muscles support the bladder, bowel, and uterus and can become weakened during pregnancy and childbirth. Kegels can help strengthen these muscles, improving bladder control and reducing the risk of incontinence.

Instructions:

  1. Lie on the floor with your knees bent and your back flat.
  2. Tighten your abdominals and tuck in your pelvis slightly as you tighten your pelvic floor muscles.
  3. Keep the muscles contracted and hold for three to five seconds. Release before repeating.
  4. Perform a total of ten to 12 reps.

Plank

The Plank is a classic belly exercise that targets the entire core, including the abdominals, obliques, and back muscles. It’s a great exercise for improving core stability and strength and toning the abdominal muscles. 

Instructions:

  1. Start in a push-up position with your arms extended, but instead of resting on your hands, rest on your forearms.
  2. Your body should form a straight line from your head to your feet.
  3. Hold this position for as long as you can, keeping your core tight and your hips level. One minute is a great goal. Once you have held this position for a predetermined amount of time, that is one complete set, and you can release it.

Side Plank

postpartum ab workout
Side Planks target the oblique and challenge your balance. Photo: Shutterstock

The Side Plank is a variation of the classic plank that targets the obliques and the deep core muscles. This exercise can help improve core stability and strength and tone the abdominal muscles. The side plank can also be adjusted to different difficulty levels.

Instructions:

  1. Start by lying on your side with your legs extended.
  2. Prop yourself up on your forearm, ensuring your elbow is directly under your shoulder.
  3. Lift your hips off the ground, forming a straight line from your head to your feet.
  4. Hold this position for as long as possible, and return to starting position.
  5.  Then switch sides and repeat.
  6.  Do 30 seconds on each side if you can.

The Bird Dog

The Bird Dog is an exercise that targets the deep core muscles, including the lower abdominals and back muscles. It’s a great exercise for improving core stability and strength and toning the abdominal muscles. This is another workout that easily adjusts for different levels.

Instructions:

  1. Start on all fours with your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
  2. Extend one arm and the opposite leg simultaneously, keeping your core tight and your back flat.
  3. Hold for a few seconds, then return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
  4. Do eight to ten reps on each side.

The Dead Bug

The Dead Bug is an exercise that targets the deep core muscles, including the lower abdominals and hip flexors. The dead bug can be easily modified to suit different fitness levels, making it a great option for new moms.

Instructions:

  1. Lie on your back with your arms and legs held above you and off the floor. Your arms should be straight, and your knees should be bent at a 90-degree angle.
  2. Tense up your abdominals as you slowly lower your right arm above your head toward the floor, extend your left leg, and lower it toward the floor.
  3. Pause for a moment when your right arm and left leg are an inch above the ground.
  4. Slowly bring your arm and leg back to the starting position before repeating with your left arm and right leg.
  5. Do ten reps on each side.

Is It Safe To Do A Workout After Pregnancy?

Yes, it is generally safe to do ab workouts after pregnancy. However, it’s important to wait until you’ve been cleared by your doctor before starting any exercise routine. This is typically around six weeks after giving birth, but it can vary depending on the individual and their delivery type. 

These aren’t going to be intense muscle-building sessions; they’re for getting back into your routine and maybe losing a bit of that postpartum fat. It’s also important to start slowly and listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right, stop and consult with your doctor. 

Things To Consider

Before starting any postpartum ab workout, it’s important to consider the following things:

Wait Until You’ve Been Cleared By Your Doctor

You should definitely talk to your doctor before starting any exercise routine. The timing varies a lot depending on the individual and the delivery type. Many people can start within a few days, but in some circumstances – like a C-section – the timeline might be more like six weeks.

Since it varies so much, talk to a doctor or an OB-GYN before starting to exercise after pregnancy.

Start Slowly

Start with one or two simple exercises and a very brief workout, and build up to more intense postpartum core exercises over time. Even if you’re doing the best postpartum ab exercises, you must take it slow and ensure your body is comfortable with what you’re doing.

Also, a common mistake is holding your breath at the beginning of an abdominal exercise. You want to avoid this, as it leads to a buildup of lactic acid and cramping. Inhale during muscle engagement and exhale upon release.

Consider Diastasis Recti

Diastasis recti[1] is a condition where the abdominal muscles separate during pregnancy. Certain abdominal exercises may not be appropriate for you if you have diastasis recti and abdominal muscle separation. 

Pay Attention To Nutrition

A healthy diet is extremely important directly after pregnancy. Ensure you get plenty of protein, eat fruits and vegetables, avoid junk food, and aim for whole grains instead of refined ones. 

Especially postpartum, there’s no shame in needing to use vitamins or supplements. They can be helpful if you’re planning to breastfeed.[2]

The Takeaways

A postpartum ab workout can be a great way to help tone and strengthen the abdominal muscles after giving birth. However, it’s important to make sure that you’re doing the right exercises and that you’re doing them safely. Always consult with your doctor before starting any exercise routine.

Frequently Asked Questions

When can you begin ab exercises after birth?

You can typically begin ab exercises around six weeks after giving birth, but it’s important to wait until your doctor has cleared you.

Is it OK to do squats postpartum?

Yes, squats can be a great exercise for postpartum women as long as they are done correctly and with proper form.

Can I do ab workouts three months postpartum?

Yes, as long as your doctor has cleared you and you are listening to your body.

Why is my core so weak after pregnancy?

Pregnancy can put a lot of strain on the abdominal muscles, causing them to weaken. Additionally, hormones released during pregnancy can cause the muscles to relax, making them weaker.


+ 2 sources

Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here

 

  1. Majken Lyhne Jessen, Stina Öberg and Rosenberg, J. (2019). Treatment Options for Abdominal Rectus Diastasis. [online] 6. doi:https://doi.org/10.3389/fsurg.2019.00065.
  2. Kominiarek, M.A. and Rajan, P.V. (2016). Nutrition Recommendations in Pregnancy and Lactation. [online] 100(6), pp.1199–1215. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mcna.2016.06.004.
Christine VanDoren

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

Christine is a certified personal trainer and nutritionist with an undergraduate degree from Missouri State University. Her passion is helping others learn how strong and healthy they can become by transforming their daily habits. Christine spends most of her time in the gym, hiking, painting, and learning how she can influence others through positivity!

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

Journal of Physical Education and Sport

Trusted Source

Go to source

SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

Trusted Source

Go to source

African Journals Online

Non-profit Platform for African Journals

Trusted Source
Go to source

Journal of The American Board of Family Medicine

American Board of Family Medicine

Trusted Source
Go to source

Informit

RMIT University Library

Trusted Source
Go to source

European Food Safety Authority

Science, Safe food, Sustainability

Trusted Source
Go to source

OrthoInfo

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Trusted Source
Go to source

American Academy of Family Physicians

Strengthen family physicians and the communities they care for

Trusted Source
Go to source

Agricultural Research Service

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Trusted Source
Go to source

The American Journal of Medicine

Official Journal of The Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine

Trusted Source
Go to source

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Database From National Institute Of Health

Trusted Source
Go to source

Lippincott Journals

Subsidiaries of Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

Trusted Source
Go to source

National Institute on Aging

Database From National Institute Of Health

Trusted Source
Go to source

Translational Research

The Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine

Trusted Source
Go to source

Cell

An All-science Publisher

Trusted Source
Go to source

Journal of Translational Medicine

BioMed Central

Part of Springer Nature
Go to source

Federal Trade Commission

Protecting America's Consumers

Trusted Source
Go to source

National Human Genome Research Institute

Database From National Institute Of Health

Trusted Source
Go to source

Food Production, Processing and Nutrition

BioMed Central

Part of Springer Nature
Go to source

BMC Gastroenterology

BioMed Central

Part of Springer Nature
Go to source

ACS Publications

A Division of The American Chemical Society

Trusted Source
Go to source

Annual Reviews

Independent, Non-profit Academic Publishing Company

Trusted Source
Go to source

PubChem

National Center for Biotechnology Information

National Library of Medicine
Go to source

PLOS Journals

Nonprofit Publisher of Open-access Journals

Trusted Source
Go to source

Thieme E-books & E-Journals

Peer-reviewed & Open Access Journal

Trusted Source
Go to source

European Journal of Agriculture and Food Sciences

Peer-reviewed International Journal Publishes

Trusted Source
Go to source

Royal Society of Chemistry Publishing Home

Chemical Science Journals, Books and Database

Trusted Source
Go to source

Frontiers

Publisher of Peer-reviewed Articles in Open Acess Journals

Trusted Source
Go to source

De Gruyter

German Scholarly Publishing House

Trusted Source
Go to source

Hindawi

Open Access Research Journals & Papers

Trusted Source
Go to source

Oilseeds and Fats, Crops and Lipids

EDP Sciences

Trusted Source
Go to source

Cambridge Core

Cambridge University Press

Trusted Source
Go to source

FoodData Central

U.S. Department Of Agriculture

Trusted Source
Go to source

Journal of the American Heart Association

Peer-reviewed Open Access Scientific Journal

Trusted Source
Go to source

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

Database From National Institute Of Health

U.S Department of Health and Human Services
Go to source

The Americans with Disabilities Act

U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division

Trusted Source
Go to source

Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Organization of Food and Nutrition Professionals

tr
Go to source

Sage Journals

Database From Sage Publications

Trusted Source
Go to source

National Institute of Drug Abuse

Database From National Institute Of Health

U.S Department of Health and Human Services
Go to source

The ClinMed International Library

A Repository and an Open Access Publisher for Medical Research

Trusted Source
Go to source

The Royal Society Publishing

United Kingdom's National Academy of Sciences

Trusted Source
Go to source

APA PsycNet

Database From American Psychological Association

Trusted Source
Go to source

The Pharma Innovation Journal

Peer-reviewed And Refereed Journal

Trusted Source
Go to source

Asian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research and Development

Peer-reviewed Bimonthly Journal

Trusted Source
Go to source

British Pharmacological Society

Journals - Wiley Online Library

Trusted Source
Go to source

American Psychological Association

Scientific and Professional Organization of Psychologists

Trusted Source
Go to source

AAP Publications

Database From American Academy of Pediatrics

Trusted Source
Go to source

Karger Publishers

Academic Publisher of Scientific and Medical Journals and Books

Trusted Source
Go to source

Cambridge University Press & Assessment

Database From Cambridge University

Trusted Source
Go to source

National Institute of Mental Health

Database From National Institute Of Health

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Go to source

MDPI

Publisher of Open Access Journals

Trusted Source
Go to source

Bulletin of the National Research Centre

Part of Springer Nature

Trusted Source
Go to source

The New England Journal of Medicine

Massachusetts Medical Society

Trusted Source
Go to source

Economic Research Service

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Trusted Source
Go to source

MedlinePlus

Database From National Library of Medicine

U.S Department of Health and Human Services
Go to source

National Institute of Health

An agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Trusted Source
Go to source

Trusted Source

Database From National Institute Of Health

U.S Department of Health and Human Services
Go to source

The BMJ

Weekly Peer-reviewed Medical Trade Journal

The British Medical Association
Go to source

The British Psychological Society

The British Psychological Society is a charity registered in England

Database From Wiley Online Library
Go to source

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Database From National Institute Of Health

U.S Department of Health and Human Services
Go to source

PubMed

Database From National Institute Of Health

U.S National Library of Medicine
Go to source

DailyMed

Database From National Institute Of Health

U.S National Library of Medicine
Go to source

Google Scholar

Go to source

Science.gov: USA.gov for Science

Government Science Portal

Go to source

ResearchGate

Social Network Service For Scientists

Find and share research
Go to source

American Heart Association

To be a rentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives

Go to source

BioMed Central

Research in progress

Go to source

JAMA Network

Home of JAMA and the Specialty Journals of the American Medical Association

Go to source

Springer Link

Database From Springer Nature Switzerland AG

Springer - International Publisher Science, Technology, Medicine
Go to source

ODS

Database from Office of Dietary Supplements

National Institutes of Health
Go to source

Federal Trade Commission

Bureaus of Consumer Protection, Competition and Economics
Go to source

Trusted Source

Database From U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Governmental Authority
Go to source

Oxford Academic Journals

Oxford University Press

Trusted Source
Go to source

Taylor & Francis Online

Peer-reviewed Journals

Academic Publishing Division of Informa PLC
Go to source

WHO

Database from World Health Organization

Go to source

Journal of Neurology

Peer-reviewed Medical Journal

American Academy of Neurology Journal
Go to source

ScienceDirect

Bibliographic Database of Scientific and Medical Publications

Dutch publisher Elsevier
Go to source

Wiley Online Library

American Multinational Publishing Company

Trusted Source
Go to source

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

U.S. National Public Health Agency

U.S Department of Health and Human Services
Go to source

Trusted Source

Database from U.S. National Library of Medicine

U.S. Federal Government
Go to source

U.S. Food & Drug Administration

Federal Agency

U.S Department of Health and Human Services
Go to source

PubMed Central

Database From National Institute Of Health

U.S National Library of Medicine
Go to source
Feedback

Help us rate this article

Thank you for your feedback

Keep in touch to see our improvement