Learn the 7 secrets to successfully starting postpartum ab exercises. Get expert tips and advice from a physical therapist who recommends core strengthening as the first step to recovery.

starting postpartum ab exercises

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.




The new journey of motherhood comes with a lot to learn, including how to start postpartum core exercises.

This is no easy task, but for some reason it’s not talked about. It’s assumed it should come naturally, like knowing what ab exercises to do to lose the excess baby weight.

Or some new mamas might think that exercises are not necessary at all. The extra baby weight will shed off on its own with the help of breastfeeding, of course. Right?

That couldn’t be more false.

Yes, breastfeeding helps tremendously, but that alone will not do the trick.

Let’s dive deep into the 7 secrets to successfully starting postpartum core exercises so that you can ultimately lose the postpartum pooch, strengthen your core and restore your abs back to the way they once were before getting pregnant.

photo credit: www.parents.com

Secret #1: Don’t start too early


When do you start postpartum ab exercises?

Well, let me just tell you that starting too early is a recipe for a disaster.

You’ll end up being discouraged and spiral backwards if you start too early because the pain is just something extra that a new mom like you does not need on her plate. Pain mixed with lack of sleep and utter exhaustion is the cause for a breakdown.

Let’s not run your body through a marathon after you just completed a 9 month triathlon. Start postpartum ab exercises after the 6 week postpartum check-up and after receiving clearance from your doctor.

At Home Mommy and Me Workout with Baby and Toddler

Secret #2: Start with one exercise and one exercise only

I know you are probably excited to get right back into the swing of things once you were given the green light, but trust me, as a physical therapist I recommend you start slow and steady.

Start with this one exercise and master that before beginning another core exercise. Trust me, you’ll be surprised at how difficult this actually is. Learn more about the #1 postpartum ab exercise that physical therapists recommend to new moms here in my FREE Restore Your Core 5 day email course.

Secret #3: Be sure to do a self test for Diastasis Recti

If you just so happen to be extra motivated and have started your postpartum ab recovery journey, have you taken the time to check to see if you have Diastasis Recti (DR)?

So many new moms miss being diagnosed with Diastasis Recti at their postpartum exam. Some even go years without knowing that the extra bulge they have in their stomach postpartum is not just excess baby weight but an actual diagnosis, a condition that is completely treatable.

Diastasis Recti, if left untreated, if never diagnosed, can completely derail your postpartum ab recovery and possibly lead to further complications if the wrong exercises are performed.

So always do a self exam for Diastasis Recti by using the finger gap test, and be reassured if you have DR or not. Be sure to follow up with the appropriate exercises if an ab separation is found. 

Secret #4: Stay hydrated before, during and after your ab workout

Staying hydrated helps you to manage your muscle fatigue and minimize the onset of delayed muscle soreness. Increased fluids, especially water, will help your muscles to repair faster and give you more energy to continue each day with your workout regime.

You need increased water intake to replace the fluids that are lost from the sweating during the workout. The last thing you want to do is become dehydrated during postpartum recovery. That will most likely lead to headaches and even migraines. 

Secret #5: Quality over quantity is far more important than anything else

If you want to focus on the one factor that is the most important when it comes to core exercises postpartum, it’s QUALITY!

Quality over quantity is the name of the game. I don’t care how many reps or sets you complete – if you have bad form, you’re not going to see the results you are desiring.

Make sure each exercise you do with your deep inner core muscles is done with the best form possible. Form and positioning are so important when contracting these inner core muscles that most often get overlooked in traditional ab exercises you may see in a YouTube ab workout video. 

Secret #6: Having a support person is necessary 

(and it’s not just necessary for childbirth but for postpartum also!)

Having a trainer, an accountability partner, a physical therapist, doctor or someone who can coach you along your postpartum journey is going to increase your odds of success when it comes to postpartum recovery and your core strength.


Because postpartum recovery is HARD and going at it alone is no easy task.

Sure, you can definitely succeed at postpartum recovery on your own, but you have a lot of factors that are weighing you down (like lack of sleep, lack of time to eat a nutritious meal, lack of energy to do an effective workout, lack of mental clarity to stay focused and motivated).

I have been there, 4 times to be exact, and I was fortunate to have my husband coach me along my postpartum journey.

The both of us being physical therapists put us at an advantage, but I want you to have an advantage also. There’s no reason for you to go at this alone.

So be sure to have that support person throughout your journey, whether that be me or someone else in person.

Seek help when you need it and have that person keep you accountable.

You can connect with me on Instagram and DM me to let me know you need that extra support. There’s no shame – one message may make all the difference. 

Secret #7: Postpartum ab exercises are not strenuous but rather simple!

That’s right, postpartum ab workouts should be easy. If they are not easy, well, then you have an instructor that is teaching you the wrong thing. I want to caution you. Postpartum ab exercises should be comfortable, never straining.

The goal is to strengthen the inner, deepest abdominal muscles first, which requires stabilization movements, not big gross motor movements.

If you find yourself doing an ab roller on the first week of your postpartum workout program, I’d advise you to run, run away. And head to something safer, easier and less straining on the body.

Start with this workout program that takes less than 10 minutes a day and is easy to do.

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

*It is important to always consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program and get medical clearance. Always warm up thoroughly and stretch after all workouts. LiveCoreStrong.com and Jena Bradley will be not be responsible or liable for any injury sustained while exercising at home, gym or elsewhere. Perform exercises at your own risk.

starting postpartum ab exercises

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