Naturally, I didn’t expect to come out of the delivery room after any of my pregnancies back in a size 0, but even having had kids before, I underestimate how little time a new baby will allow me to exercise every single pregnancy. In those final few weeks I always get these grand ideas about how fast I’m going to lose the weight this time, but then the baby makes an exit, and I just can’t get the time to exercise, because newborns often dislike being put down. What to do? Exercise with baby! Literally. The average baby of age to exercise with weighs just over 10 lbs, the perfect weight for postpartum exercise.
We’ll get to full workout holding your baby in just a moment, but first some safety notes:
When is it safe to begin postpartum exercise?
If you had an uncomplicated vaginal birth, you can start postpartum exercise whenever you like, though it’s recommended you start slow, watch for an increase in bright red bleeding (if bleeding hasn’t stopped), and take it easy on your abdominal muscles for the first one to two months. If you had labor complications such as an episiotomy or csection, speak to your doctor before beginning a postpartum workout. Generally, csections require waiting a full 6 weeks, while an episiotomy really depends on severity and heal time.
A postpartum diet can be a great addition to exercise, you can read tips and safety precautions for dieting while breastfeeding here. Whether you choose to simply exercise or incorporate a diet, do not aim to lose more than 1 1/2 lbs per week. Rapid weight loss can not only be dangerous when your body is recovering from labor, but it also can release toxins stored in fat into breast milk.
Is it safe to hold my baby during postpartum exercise?
If your baby can’t hold up his/her head this postpartum workout is not recommended. Some babies can hold their neck steady right from the start while others can’t. Be sure to wait until your baby is ready to exercise with you to avoid injury. It should also be noted none of the exercises mentioned below should be done at a rapid pace if you are holding your baby. Rapid and jarring movements can lead to shaken baby syndrome.
Alright, safety aspects covered, let’s do this,
postpartum exercise with baby workout:
Begin by placing your baby on a blanket on the floor so you can stretch before your postpartum exercise. This has dual purpose. Infants should be placed belly down for “tummy time” at least once a day to avoid bald spots as well as encourage the coordination and muscle tone needed to crawl. Also, because sitting in front of the blanket gives your baby something to strive for. Playing music while you do your postpartum exercise is also great you and baby. Music is even proven to stimulate brain activity in babies, so its a win-win. As for the stretches, a mix of yoga exercises and your basic gym class moves are a great way to start.
Do ten toe touches and neck rolls, and then enter cobra stance (lay flat on your stomach with your arms in front of you, and prop yourself on your elbows. Keep your arms shoulder length apart, bring your chest and head up using your back muscles, hold for about 10 seconds) repeat five times.
Next, enter cat pose and perform 20 arches (on your hands and knees arch your back like a cat towards the ceiling and the pull down creating a downward arch)
Finally, finish stretching by completing several standing mountain rotations (stand with your feet shoulder length apart, raise your hands above your head with your arms straight and your hands clasped like your making a little hand gun, and then stretch to the ceiling, bend to the left and hold, back to the center, reach up, bend to the right and hold, back to the center, draw
a circle on the ceiling with your extended fingers while rotating around using your obliques.)
By this time my baby is generally sick of tummy time, but you’re all stretched.
Now its time to bring your heart rate up.
Postpartum exercise: baby squats
Hold your baby to your chest and stand, straighten your back and then lower your body until your knees are at a 90 degree. Repeat five times, then hold at the 90 for 30 seconds before doing five more, repeat until breathing hard. As a side note, this exercise’s motion also works wonders to relieve baby gas pains. Something about the up and down. You will unquestionably feel this in your legs, if you’re not ready for the 90 at first, try more like 45, or even 25. Only do what’s comfortable for you. Falling with your baby because you want to challenge yourself during postpartum exercise is not going to help either of you. You can also use a baby carrier for this exercise if you feel more comfortable.
Postpartum exercise: Baby crunches, situps, and reverse crunches
Next, bring it down to the floor, place your feet under the edge of a couch and your baby on your chest. Then do your basic crunch. I also like to hold it mid crunch every few reps with my back a few inches from the floor. This sounds like an easy exercise but try it with a 10-15 lbs on your chest. You can just continue until it begins to burn. If this becomes to easy, try it without using the couch edge. These crunches can be alternated days with full situps and reverse crunches.
For full situps, use the normal situp position laying flat with your knees bent, place your baby with his or her back against your thighs and legs straddling your waist. Most baby’s then find you performing a situp super amusing, as you bring your face close to theirs, then back down, etc.
For reverse crunches, again, lay flat on your back, bring your knees to a 90 and lift your legs off the floor. Place your baby on your shins. Bring your legs, baby and all, forward to your chest, then back, and repeat.
After any of the above, remaining laying flat and relax, push your back flat to the floor and hold. Repeat. You can throw in some kegels while doing this as well.
Postpartum exercise: Push-ups with baby
Next, flip around and place your arms shoulder width apart in the pushup position with your baby below you. Quickly bring your face down to your baby and give a little eskimo kiss (do a pushup lol). Repeat as many as you feel comfortable with or until breathing hard. Alternatively, if you aren’t up to pushups yet, you can lay flat on your back, lift your baby up and then down, as if benching pressing, but with the weight of your child. This is not recommended with younger infants.
Postpartum exercise: Arm holds
Coming back up off the floor, stand with your feet hip-length apart and hold your baby under his/her arms in front of you, extend your baby outward until your arms are straight, hold for a 20 count, and then bring him/her back to your chest, and repeat. This is a wonderful time to practice funny faces. Babies learn expressions from you. If this is too easy for you try rotating baby from side to side keeping arms straight and strong.
Postpartum exercise: Lunges
Now, one final leg exercise. Just do a basic lunge holding baby. (Keep back straight, step forward with one foot and bring it to a 90 and step back, alternate legs)
By now you’ll likely be feeling pretty warn out. Walk a few house laps (If it’s winter or you aren’t up for an outdoor stroll) to wind down from your postpartum workout, then lay down on the couch and feed that baby (breastfeeding burns even more calories, by the way). By working out with baby, you may lose some weight, and he/she gets some great stimulating interaction with mommy. You don’t have to follow this postpartum workout exactly, you can alter it to your individual needs and even add your own new postpartum exercises. Just think of your baby as an adorable weight. Don’t try anything that will endanger your child, be creative, and have fun.