Pregnancy changes the body in many ways, and it can take time for the body to recover postpartum.

While “mommy makeovers” have gained popularity over the years, especially among celebrity clients, there are more cost-effective ways to restore the body’s physical structure. Strengthening the abdominal core is one of several concerns women have postpartum.

Christina Lumpkin created a space for mothers to help heal their core after giving birth through her fitness program. She founded Core Rehab Journey™, a digital masterclass where she teaches different postpartum core exercise workshops tailored to abdominal healing.

Lumpkin spoke with 21Ninety and shared her insight on what she has found helpful for her clients as she helps them heal from the inside out.

What Core Exercises Can You Begin With Postpartum?

One of the first steps Lumpkin teaches moms on their postpartum healing journey is focusing on their breath work. Learning how to breathe properly helps with engaging the core, which is also known as belly breathing. Belly breathing strengthens the diaphragm, which aids in improving core strength after childbirth.

Lumpkin also incorporates dynamic exercises into workouts. She suggests trying low-impact glute bridges that will not strain the abdominal muscles. This exercise is considered “dynamic” because it works more than just that one muscle group. Glute bridges activate the body’s hamstrings, hip flexors and abdomen, which makes for a more well-rounded workout. She also recommends standing crutches and leg raises for additional abdominal support.

She emphasizes that progress is the most important factor in her recommendations. Modifications help when attempting to meet a person’s current body level. They help the body elevate to its full potential. From starting on a wall or countertop to completing a movement in a chair or ottoman, progress can still occur as the body reaches new challenges.

“Make sure you start where you’re comfortable or where it’s appropriate,” Lumpkin told 21Ninety. “Once you master that, you have to keep moving on to more challenging things. Otherwise, your core doesn’t get challenged and, therefore, won’t continue to get stronger.”

How Long Does It Take For Diastasis Recti To Heal?

Diastasis Recti is a common occurrence that happens among women who give birth. In fact, health experts at Sanford Health found that it can affect up to 33 percent of women who deliver children. This medical condition is where the stomach muscles are weakened, resulting in a bulge or pouch in the belly. If left untreated, lingering effects of chronic lower back pain and reduced mobility could result.

Lumpkin aims to help women heal this rectus abdominis muscle group, which she refers to as the “six-pack muscles.”

“The goal is ultimately to pull together your right and left half of your abdominal muscles,” she said.

Different factors play a role in the healing process. One factor she pointed out is that each person’s amount of separation is different. However, she noted that generally, the healing process takes 3 to 6 months.

Although that is the general time period, she said she has had clients who healed quicker than that. One of her clients saw results in as little as three to four weeks.

“You can see substantial progress within 30 days,” Lumpkin said. “But, depending on how much separation you have, it may take a few months.”

She urged that consistency helps with seeing improved results. The fitness instructor wants to dispel the myth that committing to five days a week is not required to heal the core.

Her rule of thumb: commit to what you can do and stick to that.

“Even three times a week is enough to see progress,” she said. “…I would say the minimum is two, but that sweet spot is around three times.”

When Is The Right Time To Wear A Postpartum Belly Wrap?

Lumpkin suggests wearing a belly wrap immediately to start healing the internal organs.

Sometimes referred to as a belly band or belly binder, a belly wrap supports the organs and muscles as they move back to their designated areas. According to WebMd, belly wraps help to relieve pain, increase blood flow, improve posture and have other benefits. Some risks include developing a rash or itchiness, among other concerns that result from wearing the band incorrectly or too tightly.

Lumpkin made a point of distinguishing between a belly wrap and a waist trainer. While waist trainers are used to shrink the waist, they don’t help with the postpartum healing process and can cause more damage to the body. Lumpkin said she does not recommend waist training because they don’t engage the core.

Although the weartime varies, she said most mothers wear their postpartum belly wraps for 30 to 90 days.

“In order to engage your core, it’s important not to depend on the band to do the healing for you,” she said. “The only way to activate your muscles is through breath work and exercises. The wrap will not do that for you.”

While she approves of mothers wearing the belly wrap throughout the day, she recommends removing it when performing core movements to maximize each exercise.