Pilates instructor Susan Moran-Perich was completely unprepared for how difficult it was to get back into shape following her C-section. And if it was hard for her, she reasoned, how would her clients fare? “You can’t simply say ‘Pull in and up in your abdominals’ to someone who can’t even feel them!” she says. So, using herself as the prototype, Moran-Perich designed a modified version of a Pilates workout, with fewer reps and an emphasis on vigorous forced exhalations to contract and strengthen the deep layers of the lower abdominals. The emphasis is on exercises that stretch the spine, such as the Saw (sitting with your legs in a V, “saw” the outside of your foot with the opposite hand). “If you’ve had an epidural,” says Moran-Perich, “there’s a lot of tightness in the lower back.” Though the exercises can be done on the Reformer—that ominous-looking spring-equipped bed—she prefers to teach them on the mat so students can practice anywhere—say, on the floor of the nursery.