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Post-natal fitness


Don’t be alarmed! We will NOT be discussing bootcamps, marathons or one armed push-ups in the following article! We will however, talk about the mind-bogglingly difficult process of getting up and moving again after you have a baby.

Exercise! Whether that means a walk around the block, a yoga class, whatever your thing, it provides us with a wonderful dose of endorphins, a precious piece of soul-nourishing time and makes us feel so much better about ourselves. And yet, like a frustrated but happy hamster, we get stuck in this wheel of making it happen. We get energy when we workout, we need energy to workout, we don’t have energy with a new baby, and round and round we go! I get it! Having a shower most days is a huge personal triumph and adding something else onto our daily lists can be overwhelming.  As with so many aspects of parenting, society imposes unrealistic pressures – presenting us with images of Moms who seem to get their pre-baby bodies back so quickly after giving birth.  If you worked out before having children, the need to return to those glory days as well as regaining some identity, can also be an additional dose of self-pressure. Getting back to your former self takes time, patience and sometimes a bit of letting go.

The benefits of exercising before, during and after pregnancy are amazing. Increased energy, fewer aches and pains and improved self esteem are among just a few. And yet, we often find this re-aquaintance with our post-baby bodies, one of the hardest parts about re-starting exercise. Why won’t my body react when I want it to? Why does this exercise feel so hard now? Why do I pee the moment I move an inch off the floor? Remember, working out comes in many forms and it’s all about moving your body, shifting energy and being kind to yourself.

Here are a few tips before resuming exercise:

  • Check with your medical person if it is ok to resume exercise.
  • If you nurse, feed right before working out. Baby and boobs feel happier!
  • Wear 2 sports bras. If you can, splurge on a properly-fitted sports bra.
  • How do you your shoes feel? Our feet change shape so much during and after pregnancy, it is well worth being properly fitted for a new pair of sneakers. Our feet are our foundation to the rest of our frame – take care of those tootsies! Check out Rhode Runner in Providence who will expertly fit you for bras and shoes.
  • Exercise doesn’t have to mean all or nothing. If a walk around the block is all you and your baby can manage today – take it! Your time will come!
  • Join a gym where you can either take your baby with you or pop them in the childcare for 30 minutes. Most YMCA’s accept babies from 6 weeks old. Working out WITH your children is great if you can do it.  You will set a great example to your little one about making exercise a priority.
  • Try something new. Instead of getting frustrated about not being able to do the stuff you used to do, try a new class, swimming or walking. You never know what kind of new doors will open.
  • If you have any post-partem medical concerns such as a slow-healing C-section, Diastasis Recti, Tendonitis – work with someone who has experience in dealing with such things.  Any experienced trainer should be able to modify exercises for you and prevent further damage.

Exercises with your baby
Finding the time to workout with a new baby can be really tricky.  Here are some easy exercises that you can do with your baby at home.

* Low Plank – elbows under your shoulders, feet together, body in one level line. Modification: drop knees to ground. Hold for 15 seconds and increase time daily.
* Cat stretches – hands under your shoulders, knees under hips. Round upper back and then flatten back. Repeat. Modification: Make fists if you have sore wrists.
IMG_7134* Baby Press – lie down on your back, knees bent, feet on floor.  Hold your baby over your chest and press them down towards your chest and up into the air.  Head and shoulders stay on the floor. Try 10-20 reps, rest and repeat 3-4 times.
IMG_7141* Squat – holding your baby in the middle of your body, legs are wide and feet facing 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock, weight in your heels.  Sit down into your heels, stand up and squeeze bum as you do so.
IMG_7147* Baby on thighs – twists or lean backs.  Heels into floor, neck neutral, either lean back and then up OR twist to one side and then the other.  For a higher level, lift your heels off the floor.
IMG_7137* Child’s Pose – such a great end of the day hip/low back opener.  Baby can be right on the floor between your arms. Open your knees up wide and rest body onto thighs.  Hold for 30 seconds or longer if you can.
IMG_7136* Baby bicep curls – Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Shoulders rolled back, tummy tucked in. Hold your baby sideways in your arms. Roll her towards your chest and then down towards your hips. Keep your elbows tucked in. Repeat.

Photo Credits: Suzanne Cadge, Catherine Lea

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1 comment
  • We miss you neighbor! You have always been a fitness inspiration, so wonderful more people will get to know that through this gem of writing.

    I love the way that your photo shows you can check baby’s diaper while in child’s pose – brilliant!!!! (hee, hee!)