A physiotherapist explains why you shouldn't do sit ups after baby.

If you’re stressing about the sorry state of your abs after having a baby, you’re probably thinking about the fastest way to firm up that post baby belly pudding. Sit ups probably pop into your mind as the best exercise you can do. They’re ab strengthening, you can do them at home and they worked before you were pregnant right? Well, I’m here to say no. The best physio advice I can ever give my postnatal patients it to tell them that sit ups are an absolute no no after having a baby. Here’s why:

You may have an abdominal separation.

When you’re pregnant, you’ve stretched your abdominal muscles out the wazoo. If you’re really lucky, they stretched so much that you earnt a diagnosis of diastasis recti, also know as abdominal separation. This is when the vertical line of soft tissue down the middle of your six-pack splits. Not good.

Now these types of exercises you can do. Image: iStock.

But you can most definitely heal this separation by shunning sit ups and strengthening your deeper abdominal to carve out that waist again. When you do a sit up with an abdominal separation, the six-pack pulls apart with every crunch. So if you’ve got an abdominal separation, you need to avoid sit ups like the plague.

Your abs are stupid. 

Those stretched post baby abdominal muscles don't fire up like they used to. So if you start doing sit ups after having a baby, you can create an abdominal muscle separation that wasn't even there initially. This means you’ve got to be smart and careful with about the way you retrain your abs post baby. You will need to learn to turn on the deeper abdominal muscles first, I’m talking about your core. Pilates (performed correctly) is the best way to relearn to activate your abs safely and correctly.

Becky Dyer (Women’s Health Physiotherapist) & Jackie Steele (Pilates Instructor) are the co-founders of online pilates program Body Beyond Birth.

Pilates is oh so much better than sit ups.

I must say, physio + pilates = LOVE. Pilates engages the floor of your core (yes I’m talking pelvic floor) and your deeper abdominal muscles before it safely brings the six-pack into the action. Pilate techniques require the core muscles to be activated to perform all pilates exercises, so it's always an ab workout.

It's also a twofer, because you're doing pelvic floor exercise every time you activate your core. By strengthening your core, pilates protects your back and helps you look leaner too. Unlike sit ups which just strengthen the front of your abdomen, pilates strengthens the core ab muscles surrounding your waist which wrap all the way around to your spine. Not only is this fab for your back strength, it also tones up and chisels your waist from front to back.

What sort of exercise did you do after having a baby?

Body Beyond Birth is the only online Physiotherapist designed Pilates based postnatal exercise and nutrition program. Created by women’s health expert and physiotherapist Becky Dyer and Certified Pilates instructor Jackie Steele. Their mum-friendly 20 minute a day online program helps women take care of themselves and nurtures them back into shape after having a baby.