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Exercise For Pregnancy and New Moms
Keeping fit both during and after pregnancy for optimum health for you and baby.
Everyone knows that exercise while pregnant is one of the best things you can do to stay healthy along with eating right and taking general good care of your body. It can be daunting to find the perfect exercise regimen that is not just effective but safe too and can incorporate the baby after they’re born. So what are some easy and effective exercises that you can do to get back in shape after pregnancy or to help maintain your fitness while pregnant? Here are some of the top suggestions from fitness and medical professionals with images too to help you nail these workouts.
*Always remember to check with your own medical professional before embarking on any fitness routine while pregnant.*
Before We Start….
Before we get to it though, there are a few things to note about baby safety when performing the following exercises with your baby. Most of these exercises won’t lend themselves to you being able to support your child’s head, so it’s important for him or her to be able to support their heads themselves which usually occurs from around 4-5 months, however some of them you can do with laying the baby on the floor in front of you. Get your doctor’s approval to begin exercising – usually around six weeks after birth or longer if you had a cesarean section. So without further adieu, here are some of the best mother-baby exercises.
Planks are great for your obliques, abdominals and arm muscles and they engage just about every part of your body as you hold yourself up. Start by getting on your hands hands and knees and then move to elbows and toes with your bottom tucked in as much as you can to be as flat as you can get, like a plank of wood. Don’t arch your back or let your stomach drop while in the position. You will feel it burn all through your core, which is how you know the plank is working its magic. Try to hold for a count of between 5-10. You may wish to increase the time you hold the plank for as time goes on and you build your endurance.
Photo borrowed from workoutlabs.com
Squats are one of the easiest exercises to fit into your day and they can be done almost anywhere, anytime. For example, some mothers will incorporate squats into their day as they cook dinner or wash the dishes, making them versatile and effective ways to get exercise.
Stand with your feet hip distance apart, toes pointing out about 45 degrees. Bend your knees and lower your torso keeping your belly button pulled in with your back straight. Return your body to its starting position to begin again. Repeat in sets of ten to fifteen squats. Works the buttocks, thighs, hamstrings and calves as well as improves balance.
Squat done with weight. Can be done with or without weights. Photo borrowed from workoutlabs.com
Baby Curl Ups
This is a great exercise to be done with the baby on the floor. Laying on your back with your knees bent up to support the baby from behind with your feet flat, hold the baby under its arms securely while you lift your shoulder blades off the floor and ‘curl up’. This can be kind of like a form of ‘peek-a-boo’ and is likely to be a productive and fun time with the baby and sure to get a couple laughs from them too!
Curl up. Photo borrowed from workoutlabs.com
Reverse Baby Curl
Similar to the curl up with baby, the reverse baby curl will have you flat on your back with your legs raised and bent 90 degrees with baby resting on your shins. Pull your knees and the baby toward your chest. You can even make this into a game and give them kisses every time they come closer, resulting in great bonding and fun for you both while you get some exercise too!
Reverse Curl Up without baby. Photo borrowed from workoutlabs.com
It does what it says on the tin and is literally dancing with your baby. You can do one of three things when it comes to dancing with your baby – put them in a carrier attached to your body which helps to support them while you move. You can also hold them or put them in a bouncer, swing or chair nearby to allow you more freedom of movement. You can shake, shimmy and generally dance your way across the floor while making wild moves for the entertainment of the baby. Be sure to hold eye contact with them for added bonding.
Sitting on the floor or in a chair, with light weights or with your baby, hold the weights/baby in your hands with your elbows bent. Reach up and stretch without locking your elbows and then return to the starting position. Repeat for 5-10 reps then stop and rest and play with the baby before doing another set. This can be done during pregnancy or afterward as well. You may also be able to combine this with a squat for added benefit to the hamstrings and buttocks.
Overhead press with weights. Picture borrowed from workoutlabs.com
Baby Bench Press
This is the same kind of idea as the baby overhead press except with this one you will be laying flat on the floor on your back. Taking your weights or the baby in your hands, stretch your arms from a bent position up and out without locking your elbows. Return to the starting position and repeat for 5-10 reps, resting in between before doing another set.
Bench press with bar weight. Borrowed from workoutlabs.com
A typical lunge starts from standing and takes one leg forward, bending at the knee and stretching the legs as far as comfortable. Walking lunges takes this one step further and instead of returning to a standing position, you walk while lunging, essentially lunging with each further step you take. Add holding the baby for an added kick to this exercise to really hit all those trouble areas in your obliques, hamstrings, calves and buttocks.
Walking lunge with weights. Substitute weights for baby. Borrowed from workoutlabs.com
Hip Bridges are a great way to target abdominals as well as back muscles and buttocks. Laying on the floor with your feet flat and knees bent, press into the floor with your heels and raise your buttocks and lower back off the floor, leaving your shoulder blades down. You can place the baby on your stomach for added weight to help maximise the exercise.
Hip Bridge without baby. Borrowed from workoutlabs.com
So whether you’re expecting or you have already given birth to your bundle of joy, there are lots of ways for both expectant and new moms to get in shape and keep in shape regardless of schedule and time in their day. Incorporate a couple of these great suggestions today and see how much better you feel once you begin to take steps to get back to your pre-baby weight. Not only will exercise help you get fitter faster but it can also help balance your hormones as well as help your body generate chemicals in the brain that can help with things like postpartum depression and other potential pregnancy and birth issues including diabetes.