Pain in the Abdomen Post Pregnancy During Exercise

mother and baby gymnastics
A woman stretching while holding her baby. (Image: IuriiSokolov/iStock/Getty Images)

The extra weight gained during pregnancy can be difficult to shed, especially for a new mother who is busy with a newborn. Although exercise is an effective way to lose pregnancy weight, pain in the abdomen during exercise can be a sign that a woman’s body is not ready to be so physically active. Because this pain can signal serious injury, it is important for a woman to understand what can cause it and how it can be prevented.

Symptoms

Postpartum pain in the abdomen during exercise can be accompanied by a variety of symptoms. These can include extra skin in the abdominal area, body and muscle stiffness and soft tissue. The front of the abdominal wall may even be visible through the skin. In addition, pain can be felt not only during extraneous exercise but when sneezing, coughing or even laughing.

Causes

The Babycenter website explains that postpartum abdominal pain in the abdomen is often times due to exercising too soon or too vigorously after giving birth. During pregnancy, the abdominal muscles form a gap to support the expanding belly and labor. This is called diastasis recti. It can take approximately eight weeks for this gap to close completely after giving birth. If you exercise your abdominal muscles too soon, you can develop muscle injuries such as tears and sprains.

Treatments

According to the Cleveland Clinic website, abdominal injury can benefit from home remedies. Place a cool compress on your abdominal muscles to help prevent swelling and discourage movement. Rest is essential in order for the muscles to heal. You can also gently and carefully stretch the groin and abdominal muscles. Contact your doctor if the pain does not go away within a few days. Surgery may be required to repair diastasis recti or any tears or muscle injury.

Prevention/Solution

To prevent postpartum abdominal pain while exercising, a woman should check to see if she has abdominal muscle separation before exercising the abdominal muscles. You can do this by lying on your back with knees bent. With your fingertips, find the muscles on both abdominal sides. Move your fingers slowly to the middle of the abdominal muscles, feeling for a ridge or edge of muscle. If this separation is bigger than one finger-width across, you may have diastasis recti.

Considerations

Wait six weeks or more after giving birth before starting an exercise or weight loss routine. Starting exercise or a diet too soon can not only risk injury, it can also lower a woman’s energy level, mood and milk supply. Once you have properly healed from birth, you can return to abdominal exercises and a heart-increasing aerobic activity such as running, brisk walking or bike riding.

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