Post-Baby Core Recovery Plan

14 Oct

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

Every runner knows that to be fast, having a strong core is absolutely essential. Even though it is still a little early and yesterday’s doctor appointment shows that Baby Key is not “in the process” yet, I still want to have a plan for starting the process of regaining my core strength immediately after he is born.

Thanks to a little protein hormone called relaxin, in addition to my growing belly, my hips and pelvis have also widened. I am not terribly happy about that, but luckily there are ways to help get my body back on the road to recovery as soon as possible after the baby arrives. However, you can also use relaxin to your advantage. In the 6-8 weeks post-partum, your body is still producing this hormone, and here are certain products that, if used in this time frame, can help you “put your body back together” in a safe way.

Note: I am aware that some readers may feel that my methods could possibly be considered extreme or unnecessary, but please remember that this is MY body and this is MY plan. What works for me may or may not work for you. The use of these products is not purely for vanity reasons in wanting to “look” like my pre-pregnancy self, but more about regaining muscle control and feeling strong again.


Belly Bandit
Immediately after the baby is born, I plan to start wearing the Belly Bandit Bamboo. I have done a lot of research about this product and from what I can tell, it seems to be the softest and most comfortable abdominal binder. In addition to helping shrink the belly, waist, and hips, the Belly Bandit also supports the upper body while breastfeeding and gently persuades the abdominal muscles to move back together. It also stabilizes the pelvic floor and supports the spine. I plan to wear this all of the time, unless I am exercising or doing an activity that would cause me to sweat.

In concept, this is a similar product to the abdominal binder, except that it is for the hips. Stabilizing and returning pelvic joints to their pre-pregnancy position will allow me to get back to running sooner. In using the hip stabilizers, the goal is to help turn my hip sockets completely back forward in to the correct position (the legs-turned-out pregnancy waddle is not a myth, my friends!) so that returning to running is as easy as possible. Since it is a softer material, I plan to wear this during the day.

Hip Slimmer
Break out the big guns! See those laces? This contraption ain’t no joke. Conceptually, this product is similar to the ShrinxHips except that it seems to provide a bit more binding action. The reviews I have read about this product completely prepare me for this to be uncomfortable. However, the reviews also so that it really works. It seems that it is easiest to put when there are two sets of hands available, so I plan to wear this one at night.

Compression Tank
I have not completely decided on a brand or style for a compression tank, so for this, my options are still open. When I am able to return to light/moderate exercise, I will remove the Belly Bandit and wear a compression tank. This will give me a bit more flexibility in my core and allow my muscles to regain strength while still being supported. I have seen a few different styles that I like and am even considering one that I recently saw at Wal-Mart.

MomBodFitness FITsplint
I wrote a review of this product a while back but it can be used during pregnancy, as well as after. I will use this most during exercise in those first post-partum weeks.


As soon as I am given the green light to move past light/moderate exercise and onto true core strengthening, here are some of the exercises I plan to squeeze in my day…you know, with all that free time that I will have having just had a baby and all. (I get points for being ambitious, yes?)

I have a true love/hate relationship with core exercises but I know I need to do them. The #PlankADay plan (and then progressing on to the #PlanAnHour) is manageable and planks can be done anywhere. I really have no excuse not to do this.

Back and Side Hyperextensions
There is nothing in the world that removes the dreaded muffin-top faster than hyperextensions. A while back I worked with a running coach and he had me do these to strengthen my lower abs and back and I was AMAZED at how much stronger my body looked and felt. I will absolutely be incorporating this into my post-partum core recovery plan.

P90X Ab Ripper
Luckily, we already own the P90X system, so this will be a matter of popping in the DVD and committing the 15 minutes to the program. Personally, I think Tony Horton is incredibly corny but there is no doubt in my mind that his programs, when followed properly, WORK. Having done the P90X program before, I know that it is hard and intense and I fully expect to not be able to do half of the exercises on my first several attempts. But, I plan to keep working at it.

Since I am a total amateur yogi, I plan on hitting up the free classes on Saturday mornings offered by my local lululemon athletica showroom. I figure that some yoga is better than no yoga and since they rotate teachers from different studios, maybe I will find one that I like.

So, there is the plan. It seems extensive, but I really think I can manage it. I know I have lofty goals and that all of these good intentions may go right out the window when I realize that breastfeeding, washing onesies, and getting some shut-eye are more important, but at least I have a plan.

What did YOU (or your spouse, partner, etc.) do post-partum to help strengthen your/her core again? If you are currently expecting, what is YOUR plan?

15 Responses to “Post-Baby Core Recovery Plan”

  1. Julie (A Case of the Runs) October 14, 2011 at 9:26 AM #

    I’ve seen that shrinx product at Babies R Us before. I am definitely going to order something like that when I have a kid! My hips are wide as they are, so if I ever want to wear pants again, I will take advantage of that relaxin window.

  2. Lorri Randle October 14, 2011 at 9:51 AM #

    I’ve only heard good reviews about the belly bandit-I have a friend who used it. Unfortunately I didn’t hear about it until after I lost all the baby weight from child number 2.

    I think having a plan is SO important. You are so inspiring how you are thinking ahead. Remember that you will be tired and some days just won’t work out like you planned, but taking the small steps will help you get closer to your goal.

    One thing that helped me was to also include the hubby in the plan. I had plans and programs and goals, but it was MOST important to have him be there to help. Many a morning I had been up the night with the baby and then was going to try a little yoga or I used the Chalean Extreme program, and the baby or the toddler was up early and he knew it was important for me and would take over so I could get even 15-20 mins in.

    Congrats and don’t get frustrated and forget to have fun with it too!

  3. Kristie October 14, 2011 at 10:09 AM #

    I think you’ll be surprised at how quickly you bounce back. With my first two children, I didn’t gain much weight, and continued to exercise throughout my pregnancy. In fact, I played singles tennis two days before my daughter was born! I was back to my normal weight and feel in 2 weeks. With my 3rd one, I was older, and had more complications so I didn’t exercise or eat as well. It took longer, in fact I’m not sure I ever went back to where I was. I love all of your ideas, but it does give me a giggle to think you’re going to feel a bit like a mummy 🙂 Just realize you might not need as much help as you think. You’ve done a great job of keeping fit throughout. You’ll be there quickly, especially if you breast feed.

  4. Brigid October 14, 2011 at 10:19 AM #

    I’m going to star this post for when I need the info! I’ve been reading all these great posts this morning from fit moms-to-be. Y’all are an inspiration. I’m slowly filling away bits of knowledge. Just know your advice is invaluable to those of us who are thinking about starting a family soon!

  5. Cat @Breakfast to Bed October 14, 2011 at 11:41 AM #

    get the slimmer not the shrinkx. I bought the skrinx and it didn’t work at all, I hear good things about the former, though. It is SOO uncomfortable. Especially if you have a normal, vaginal birth. *tres throbby ouch. As far as the binding, I would suggest getting two pairs of girdles at Macy’s one size smaller than what you are. it is far less visible under clothing.

    my baby is 5mo and son is 3.

  6. Morgan @ Becoming Rooks October 14, 2011 at 11:51 AM #

    You are hard core, lady! 🙂 That hip corset is hilarious! I don’t how much compression you are looking for in a tank, but I love the Yummie Tummie tanks. Also, thanks for the tip about hyperextensions. I have very weak back muscles and have been looking for exercises to strengthen them.

  7. running on faith October 14, 2011 at 12:37 PM #

    Wow, I have never heard of any of these products! But good for you for thinking ahead. I do think you will find though that once you are able to exercise your body naturally does a great job of returning back to its post baby form. And yes, have a plan. I found having my husband watch the baby in the morning so I could get a quick workout in really helped because I had less energy at night/afternoon! Just be patient and know that with babies some plans all go astray depending on how your day with the baby goes but having workouts/goals

  8. Nicole October 14, 2011 at 3:44 PM #

    Wow- I didn’t even know those things existed!! I have heard of belly support but not for post-partum. Makes sense.

    Is there anyway to do those hyper extension exercises without the machine?

  9. Megan @ On The Road Again October 14, 2011 at 4:47 PM #

    Haven’t heard about the Belly Bandit, but it sounds like something I might be interested in!

    My post-baby plan is just to start running again. I have a slew of races lined up starting in the spring: at least a handful of 5/10k’s, a half-marathon in June, and 10-miler in August, and a full marathon in late October (Marine Corps, maybe?). I’m so excited to get back into action!

  10. Andrea October 14, 2011 at 7:31 PM #

    Great job planning ahead. I would agree with the above posts to get hubby on board and stay flexible with your plan.  Although you should do great with recovery as active as you are. I can say that from experience, the hospital/birth place should give you a “belly bandit” type corset paid for by insurance, especially if you had a c-section. You will want one! I also got a shrink hips type product I believe from the doctor from my previous pregnancy.  I also used several sizes of cheaper girdles from Target and these were just as effective for all of the above, but dont expect to do this right away due to pain and incisions etc…check with doctor. One of the most important muscles to work on post are the transverse to pull everything back in. Sit up type exercises not recommended until you close the diastisis recti but planks are a good stepping stone once this occurs. Also the relaxin  may last longer, like it has for me. Like pregnancy everyone is different. More to come from me as I am writing more specific guidelines on running/pregnancy and returning from a PT and athlete perspective…

  11. Heather2run October 14, 2011 at 9:37 PM #

    I wish I had heard of this 3 1/2 yrs ago after baby#2! Good for you! You are SO lucky to have been able to keep active during pregnancy. Keep an open mind to the fact that some days/nights won’t go well, you may be sore and exhausted. Do what feels right to you. It gets easier as baby gets bigger, and you get more “Mom-Confident.” I am so happy & excited for you! 🙂

  12. Kelley October 24, 2011 at 3:17 PM #

    My concern with these is that they would bring my hips out of alignment. I’m a runner too and have had hip joint problems in the past. And I worry that the compression would put them back in the wrong place. Is that possible? Has anyone talked to their doc or a physical therapist about that? I’m still TTC, but am a big planner and have been looking at these products, but am a bit nervous.

  13. lsulaura October 24, 2011 at 7:23 PM #

    You may be surprised, lady! I didn’t do much postpartum (besides bounce a baby for hours and breastfeed around the clock) and I quickly lost not only all of the weight, but got back into my old clothes, too. I was finally able to maintain a regular level of fitness when we started sleeping through the night (7 months!) before getting pregnant again. This time I am not stressing over how I’ll look/feel post-baby because I know it will all come off quickly enough and I’ll be chasing after TWO! Best wishes!

  14. hauterunningmama October 27, 2011 at 6:17 PM #

    I don’t think you will need any of those things (hip slimmer, belly bandit)! I know different things work for different people but I have an old school mentality (i.e I didn’t use wipes warmers and both of my kids butts were fine). I exercised as I could during pregnancy (I was high risk) and gained healthy weight. I nursed both babes and within 2 weeks was back in my pre-preggo clothes. With my first I was able to deliver and my core was back to normal by my 6 week pp check up (no saggy tummy skin). I did not do any core exercises til the doc said ok. With bay #2 I had an emergency c-section so I was not able to do core exercises for longer- but could still get back into regular clothes within 2 weeks (not jeans, that scar hurt!). I think post c-section I was not allowed to do core workouts til 10ish weeks pp. Too high of a risk of rupturing the area.

    I wouldn’t worry (I know, easier said than done), you will be back to your old self before you know it!


  1. Losing Weight is Scary « - November 3, 2011

    […] am still excited about about the Core Recovery Plan that I have devised. At this point, I am just ready for Baby Key to arrive, assess my physical […]

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