As someone in the fitness industry who worked out before pregnancy and during pregnancy (you can check out my pregnancy blog posts here! I just expected to be back on my feet, dancing and squatting away soon after my little nugget was born. For those of you who are seasoned mothers, I can actually hear your chuckles and feel the eye-rolls. I know, I know…now.
The post-delivery recovery period will of course differ for everyone, but I HIGHLY recommend staying active in pregnancy as much as possible so that you can bounce-back faster. But aside from the physical limitations…how the heck to new moms find the time to stay active when these little ones constantly need to be fed or attended to in some way?
I tried everything. As postpartum week 6 approached and I felt like my body was ready for some movement other than taking walks around the neighborhood, I went to bed one night with a plan in mind that the workouts would start again the next morning. But that next day and each day after would pass with no “free” time. Until one day as I was trying different things to keep Baby R (who will also be called “Laddoo” from time to time) from crying, I instinctively started doing squats. For a moment I only noticed that the crying had stopped, then all of a sudden it hit me – I was exercising.
The squats were followed by lunges, the legs were given a break to take care of mini-bicep curls. And if your little one is anything like mine, he hated tummy time. However, he could stand it a little more if he could be on his tummy with me doing pushups in front of his face. It was all of these little moves that made me realize just how possible working out could be at home. I didn’t need to set aside a specific amount of time. I didn’t need to have some major plan. Just like everything else with motherhood, I just needed to go with the flow and do what I could to make it all work, even if that meant I worked out for random 5-10 minute periods a few times a day.
We all know how important music is for babies. Being able to combine music and movement not only enforces their association of the two, but encourages healthy relationships with staying active as they get older.
Even if you are not holding your baby the entire time, their observation of your exercise has lasting positive effects on their understanding of physical activity. And what baby doesn’t love watching you dance around the living room!
As Laddoo grew older and more mobile, using him as my own personal hand weight became a little tougher because he wanted to be free to move. But watching him clap along as he thought I was just being silly while I was actually getting my cardio in, was a treat for both of us.
Now it’s your turn – try these exercises at home and see how it goes. Remember that you don’t need to think of exercise as being a check on your to-do list. Incorporate movement and body weight (or baby weight) exercises in bits and pieces throughout the day as interactive play time!
– Lie flat on your back, you can bend knees and bring feet in for additional comfort and lower back support
– Bend arms at the elbows to form 90 angles with the arms, holding baby right above chest level
– Extend arms upwards (always careful not to lock elbow completely when straightening)
– Slowly lower arms fully controlled, keeping elbows tucked to sides, bringing baby to chest
– Little kisses or nose rubs are additional bonuses each time you finish a rep!
1/2 Bicep Curl (only do if you are comfortable and baby has enough control to not tumble about!)
**It is important to have enough strength in the arms to raise and lower with full control**
– Standing upright, keep elbows pressed to sides and bend to bring forearms out in front of you
– Hold baby tightly across your arms in tabletop position
– Curl arms upward, bringing baby into chest
– Slowly lower back to starting position. Do not straighten arms completely as baby could fall out. Stop where you feel is best.
Stand with feet slightly apart, in line with the hip bones
Hold baby securely facing towards you or facing outward if he has good head and core control. I like to hold outwards by placing one arm in front and through the legs and the other arm across his body and under the armpits.
The most important thing is to keep the baby centered in front of your body so that you maintain even weight distribution.
Perform a standard squat by bending your knees and pushing your hips and bottom back like you are sitting in a chair. Do not push weight forward onto your knees. Body weight should be distributed through your hamstrings and glutes; you should be able to wiggle/lift your toes.
As you lift to straighten, push the pelvis/hips forward and squeeze your legs and butt together. Try for 10 at first, but perform as many as you can!
– Lie flat on your back with knees bent and feet pulled in
– Sit baby right at your lower abs, leaning against your knees
– Squeeze the abs and lift the lower back up off of the ground, keep legs and glutes tight!
– Hold for 10 seconds and then lower for 5 seconds before repeating
– Lie flat on your back with knees bent and feet pulled; lower back should be pressed against the ground throughout the exercise
– Sit baby right at your lower abs, leaning against your knees
– Hold baby’s hands for balance and connection (don’t use him to pull up though!), squeeze and engage ab muscles to curl the upper body off of the floor and come in for a rewarding kiss
– Slowly lower the body in a controlled and steady motion
Plank and Push-up
This can be done in a variety of ways all depending on the preference and mobility of your little one. Here are some options:
1. Encourage baby’s tummy time by planking or doing push-ups face-to-face
2. Lay the baby down on back and plank over him. You can do pushups and come in for some nose-to-nose tickles or a little peck.
3. Simply let baby crawl around while you perform this. For some reason they find it hilarious! And if you have a mover, just see how long you can go before you have to peel them off of the bookcase or something 😉
This is, of course, my personal favorite. I’d start by dancing a bit together, holding him as I did for squats – keeping in mind to have his weight equally distributed and centered
A carrier can also work for those whose babies are ok with them!
Once I started to feel too tired from carrying the weight, I’d want to continue a bit more without holding him. Because my Laddoo is a non-stop mover, I would sit him in his bouncer or bumbo, or place him in his pack’n play and let him just enjoy the moment! I truly feel that it has deepened his love for music and movement as he now starts bouncing his little legs and dancing any time he hears music.
Please do let me know how it goes and if you have any questions. I’ve started a Facebook group for friends interested in doing an online Bollywood Babes and Babies workout – if you’d like to try it out, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.