Exercising post pregnancy
One problem that a lot of mothers have after having a baby is struggling to lose the weight they put on during pregnancy. While a lucky few are genetically blessed (you know the ones, they look like they never even had a baby), for most, it’s a battle that is lost the moment they get pregnant.
Fortunately, ladies, there’s no big mystery here, no closely guarded secret. It takes patience, healthy eating and a zen-like focus on exercising. But how? Especially if you didn’t workout before you got pregnant, and now you have a baby that demands your full attention. Where do you find time to go to the gym? How do you leave your baby for workout sessions? Here are some tips to making other new mothers eyeball you, and ask how you did it.
Studies have shown that getting your pre-pregnancy body back after delivery is a little easier if you paid attention to diet and exercised before and during pregnancy, but the truth is that most people don’t do any exercise at all. So, after pregnancy, the discipline is not there and the downward spiral starts. How quickly you start working out after delivery really does depend on your method of delivery and as a new mother, I strongly recommend you consult with your doctor before attempting any workout and to approve any specific diet you want to try.
It is not uncommon to lose a chunk of the extra pregnancy weight while breast-feeding, but a lot more needs to be done to compliment any workout plans you may have. During pregnancy women tend to change their eating habits to support the baby’s growth and development. After deliver it is extremely important to continue with proper nutrition, especially if breast-feeding. This will go a long way to helping with healthy weight loss after delivery.
Traditionally, women were told to wait at least six weeks after giving birth to begin exercising. Times are changing, if you were one of those superwomen that exercised during pregnancy (we hate you) and had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, its generally safe to start exercising within days of delivery…or as soon as you feel ready. However, if you had a C-section or a complicated birth, please talk to your doctor about when you can start an exercise program. Actually, talk to your doctor no matter what. If you get the ok then it’s showtime:
Start slowly. Begin with light aerobic activity, like walking, stationary cycling or swimming. As your stamina improves, slowly increase the length and intensity of your workouts. It’s really ok to break a sweat, that’s a good sign (unless of course you’re in a swimming pool).
Include your baby. This one is important and will be explored further below. If you have trouble finding time to exercise, as 99% of new mothers do, include your baby in your routine. Take your baby for a daily walk (uphill if you can) in a stroller or baby carrier. If you prefer to jog, use a jogging stroller designed for infants.
Target your abs. Losing abdominal fat takes dietary changes and aerobic exercise, but abdominal crunches and other ab exercises can help tone.
Don’t do it alone. Joining classes or working out with other new mothers provides extra motivation.
Remember to drink plenty of water before, during and after each workout. Stop exercising immediately if you experience pain, dizziness, shortness of breath or a sudden increase in vaginal bleeding. These may be signs you’re overdoing it.
Exercises you can do with your baby
This provides a light cardio workout that involves all the major muscle groups and improves balance and coordination. It will also improve your mood, no matter how tired and stressed you may be. You can do this while holding your baby or with him in a front carrier that keeps him close to your body and supports his head. Just put on some music you love and dance, keeping you abs drawn in (think of when you go out in that tight dress that makes you hold your stomach in).
For variety, try intervals of slow and moderately fast music to keep your heart rate elevated. If your baby is in a carrier, be careful when turning quickly and avoid bouncing. You can also place your baby in a bouncy seat or swing and dance around him. Make your movements large and animated and maintain eye contact.
Lie face up on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat. Place your baby in a seated or reclined position on or just above your pubic bone. Hold him securely under his arms with fingers wrapped around his torso. Contract your abs and lift your head, neck and shoulder blades off the floor for two counts. Exhale through your mouth as you curl up, drawing your abs up and in. Do 15 to 20 repetitions, rest and play for 1-2 minutes, then do one more set.
Alternatively you can lay your child on the mat and hold the plank position above him for 15 to 30 seconds. You can increase the time as you get stronger. Remember to make eye contact with your little one, making funny faces is entirely up to you.