7 Exercises for Postpartum Core Recovery + Diastasis Recti

Rebuild core strength and tighten your belly after pregnancy with these 7 exercises for postpartum core recovery + diastasis recti {abdominal separation}.

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We have a lot of new mamas around here, welcome! Most of you found NML through my pregnancy-friendly workouts on Pinterest. But now you’re wondering what to do post-baby.

You’re not alone, trust me. I don’t know about you, but as a new mom, I was underwhelmed with the information I received around how to care for my body postpartum.

According to this study published in The Journal of Perinatal Education, postpartum health care has been critiqued as too limited to meet the health needs of women. Agreed!

This is why it’s taken me 19 months post-baby to share this post. Because I’ve gone through my own trials and errors, of trying to figure out if I have diastasis recti, and how to rebuild core strength post-baby.

how to rebuild core strength post-baby

That said, every body, pregnancy, and postpartum journey is different and you know your body best. My goal with this post, and the posts I plan to continue to share on postpartum recovery and diastasis recti is to share the resources that best served me.

If you’re pregnant or have had a baby, you’re well aware that pregnancy does a number on your body. Your muscles are pulled, stretched, and challenged in ways they’ve never been before. And post-pregnancy, you feel it!

A lack of core strength can manifest in different symptoms, such as back and hip pain.

Rebuilding your core, specifically your transverse abs {as opposed to the rectus abdominus, six-pack muscles} and pelvic-floor muscles, is a great first step to take when you’re feeling ready to get active postpartum. 

First, I suggest testing yourself for Diastasis Recti. I like this video. I originally mis-diagnosed myself by just testing my abdominal separation and not also including the connective tissue below my abs when I engage my pelvic floor.

Second, slowly start adding these 7 exercises for postpartum core recovery to your daily routine.

Note, some of these exercises may be too advanced to dive into, especially if you do have a 2-3 finger diastasis recti abdominal separation. Start with the first three exercises, and add-on from there.

7 Minute Post Baby Abs

If you do have diastasis recti, I’d also suggest you check out these resources:

I say this will all my workouts, but it’s especially important with prenatal and postpartum workouts. If you have any concerns, or if you’re starting a fitness program for the first time, please consult your doctor or midwife. 

The Workout: 7 Exercises for Postpartum Core Recovery + Diastasis Recti {7-Minute Workout}

These are seven of my personal favorite exercises I did postpartum to rebuild core strength.

All seven exercises are performed while lying on your back, using just your bodyweight. Be sure to keep your low back pressed firmly into the mat/ground for all exercises to maximize core engagement. If your low back starts to come off the mat, you can always modify as needed {see modifications below in italics}.

Perform each exercise for 30 seconds, repeat x 2 sets for a 7-minute postpartum workout.

Note, start where you are and do what you can. Maybe you start by performing the first three exercises for 20-30 seconds, rest and repeat. Then slowly add on exercise 4, then 5, and progress your way up to completing all seven exercises. And you can always work up to performing these exercises for 45-60 seconds. 

  1. Lying Heel Tap + Leg Lift

  2. Lying Bent Knee Pulls

  3. Elevated Bent Knee March

  4. Elevated Leg Extension + Leg Drop

  5. Elevated Leg Extension + 2 Circles

  6. Elevated Bent Knee V-Taps {2 count on the way down and up}

  7. Elevated First Position Kick Outs {2 count on the kick out and return}

See the workout video above for a demonstration of each exercise.

Lying Heel Tap + Leg Lift

With your low back pressing firmly into the mat and your abdominal wall wrapped as tightly as possibly around your core tap slide one bent leg away from your body, tapping your heel. Then, trying to keep your extended leg as straight as possible, raise your leg. Return to the starting position.

To modify, take out the leg raise and only perform the heel taps.

Perform 30 seconds, alternating legs.

Lying Heel Tap + Leg Lift | 7 best postpartum exercises for core recovery | body back after baby | Diastasis Recti

Lying Bent Knee Pulls

With your low back pressing firmly into the mat and your abdominal wall wrapped as tightly as possibly around your core alternate pulling one knee towards your chest. Hold knee to chest for a 2-3 count and switch legs.

To modify, keep your extended leg on the mat.

Perform 30 seconds, alternating legs.

Lying Bent Knee Pulls | 7 best postpartum exercises for core recovery | Diastasis Recti

Elevated Bent Knee March

With your low back pressing firmly into the mat and your abdominal wall wrapped as tightly as possibly around your core bring your legs to a 90 degree bend. Note, the closer your knees are to your chest the easier this will be. The farther your knees are from your chest, the harder this will be.

Alternate tapping one toe towards the ground, return to starting position, and tap the other toe towards the ground. This movement is slow and controlled.

To modify, keep both toes on the ground and alternate lifting one knee towards your chest and switch.

Perform 30 seconds, alternating toe taps on each leg.

Elevated Bent Knee March | Postpartum workout for core recovery | Diastasis Recti

Elevated Leg Extension + Leg Drop

With your low back pressing firmly into the mat and your abdominal wall wrapped as tightly as possibly around your core bring your legs to a 90 degree bend. Note, the closer your knees are to your chest the easier this will be. The farther your knees are from your chest, the harder this will be.

Alternate extending one leg straight out, then slowly lowering the extended leg towards the ground. Return to starting position, and repeat on the other side. This movement is slow and controlled.

To modify, take out the leg lower and only perform the leg extensions.

Perform 30 seconds, alternating legs.

Elevated Leg Extension + Leg Drop | exercises to tighten belly after baby | Elevated Bent Knee March | Postpartum workout for core recovery | Diastasis Recti

Elevated Leg Extension + 2 Circles

With your low back pressing firmly into the mat and your abdominal wall wrapped as tightly as possibly around your core bring your legs to a 90 degree bend. Note, the closer your knees are to your chest the easier this will be. The farther your knees are from your chest, the harder this will be.

Alternate extending one leg straight out, then slowly draw two donut-sided circles with the big toe of your extended leg. Return to starting position, and repeat on the other side. This movement is slow and controlled.

To modify, perform one circle or take out the circles and only perform the leg extensions.

Perform 30 seconds, alternating legs.

Elevated Leg Extension + 2 Circles | postpartum core recovery workout

Elevated Bent Knee V-Taps {2 count on way down + up}

With your low back pressing firmly into the mat and your abdominal wall wrapped as tightly as possibly around your core bring your legs to a 90 degree bend. Note, the closer your knees are to your chest the easier this will be. The farther your knees are from your chest, the harder this will be.

Open your legs as you lower your toes towards the ground on a 2 count. Tap your toes on the outsides of your mat, then return to the starting position on a 2 count, squeezing your knees and inner thighs to touch as you return. This movement is slow and controlled.

To modify, drop only one leg to the outside of the mat and return to the starting position, then dropping the other leg. Alternating legs versus dropping both legs at the same time.

Perform 30 seconds.

Elevated Bent Knee V-Taps | after baby core recovery, DR recovery exercises | nourish move love

Elevated First Position Kick Outs {2 count on kick out + return}

With your low back pressing firmly into the mat and your abdominal wall wrapped as tightly as possibly around your core bring your legs to a 90 degree bend. Note, the closer your knees are to your chest the easier this will be. The farther your knees are from your chest, the harder this will be.

Bring your feet to ‘first position’, heels touching and toes out making a ‘V’ with your feet. Then slowly kick both heels out, away from your body on a 2 count; squeezing your inner thighs to touch as you reach full extension. Then return to the starting position on a 2 count, pulling your knees back to a 90 degree bend. This movement is slow and controlled.

To modify, kick out only one leg, return to the starting position, then kick out the other leg. Alternating legs versus kicking out both legs at the same time.

Perform 30 seconds.

first position kick out | new mom workout | nourish move love

Stay tuned as this is just the first post of my Postpartum Core Recovery Series. Up next, a full 10-Minute Postpartum Core Workout with Sponge Ball.

Pin this Postpartum Workout for Core Recovery

7 Exercises for Postpartum Core Recovery + Diastasis Recti

7 Basic Ab Exercises After Baby

 

6 comments
    • Hi Emily! Great question, I have to say check with your doctor/midwife on this one as I’m not qualified to give advice. I personally started transverse abdominal breathing around 2-3 weeks PP, and started with the first three exercises outlined here around 4 weeks PP and progressed up to all seven exercises around 12 weeks PP. I hope that helps. Thank you! -Lindsey

  1. Hi Lindsey—I am a pelvic PT working in the Twin Cities. I have been following you on IG and your blog for some time and love it. I am so happy to see the addition of diastisis Recti and pelvic floor recovery exercise. I would love to connect with you as I am trying to find a resource to refer my patients once they “graduate” from my program.

    • Hi Charet! Thanks so much for this message + reaching out on IG! I’m so glad we were able to connect on IG and I look forward to chatting more soon! Thank you! Lindsey

  2. I am glad for this post and to hear your recommendations! I am a personal trainer and work with postpartum women. Much of the information out there is not helpful but your moves are great. Just remember the breathing techniques to go along with them to decrease pressure on the pelvic floor and the abdominal wall. And if anyone is ever concerned about diastasis recti or pelvic organ prolapse to see a PT specializing in pelvic floor work. Thanks for all you do and your awesome workouts!

    • Hi Tracy!
      Thanks so much for checking out this post! And yes, I feel like I put the cart before the horse a bit with the breathing, but I did a whole series on my IG stories today on TVA breathing to accompany these exercises! It’s all so important as it all works together! Thanks so much for checking out this post! -Lindsey