If you’re a new mother, you should wait a long time before getting back to doing sit-ups and crunches, especially if you have abdominal separation.

Crunches will never make your stomach strong and flat – quite the opposite is true!

Here are some reasons to avoid sit-ups:

  • Every sit-up or crunch you do, whether straight or oblique, puts additional strain on your abdominal muscles. With every crunch and sit-up you do, your internal organs will be pushed outwards and downwards against the tendon that holds your abdominal muscles together (exacerbating the separation) and pelvic floor (which in turn can lead to pelvic organ prolapse). This will also affect your lower back.
  • Another reason to avoid sit-ups is that as soon as your back reaches a 75-degree angle to the floor, you engage your hip flexors. Your hip flexors get tight during pregnancy due to biomechanical changes in your body, so why make them even tighter? Also, most of us spend the day sitting down – and this makes our hip flexors even more tight. And once we’re sitting, lots of us tend to tuck our bottom under us, pushing our stomachs outwards. 
  • Then we have another problem: functionality. The goal is to target the deep core muscles, and sit-ups exercise the rectus abdominis – that is the outer abdominal muscles. I’m not saying you shouldn’t do crunches or sit-ups ever again – no, but they shouldn’t be your dominant ab workout going forward.

Also try to avoid the following:

  • Exercises where you lie on your back while lifting and lowering your legs.
  • Core rotations.
  • Exercises where you lie on your back on a Swiss ball and stretch your abdomen.
  • Coughing or sneezing without using the support of your abdominal muscles.
  • Yoga poses that stretch the abdomen, such as cobra pose (we want to do the opposite and shorten these muscles).

Learn how to get up correctly

Now that you know a bit more about sit-ups and crunches and how non-functional these exercises are for you right now, it’s time to have a think. How do you get out of bed? How do you lie down? I can pretty much guarantee that you do this by doing a full sit-up. How good is that for your back? And your abs? Not good at all! So my recommendation is that you approach this as if you were still pregnant – and turn on your side first before you get up.