The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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Being a new mom means you’re busy from morning till night, but that doesn’t preclude you from wanting to get your pre-baby body back. If a thorough head-to-toe workout isn’t how you want to spend your precious time each day, that’s fine. We’ve put together some quick but effective workouts just for you. These simple moves work your whole body yet don’t require hours of effort each day. You can do the “quickie” routines separately or together every other day. With your doctor’s approval, it’s fine to start doing these exercises as early as six weeks after you’ve given birth. (If you had a Cesarean section, you may need to wait until you are completely healed.)
You can do this while holding your baby in your arms or carrying him in a front carrier that keeps him close to your body and supports his head (a carrier with straps that fit over your shoulders and around your waist is best). All you have to do is put on some great music and dance, keeping your abs drawn in. For variety, try intervals of slow and moderately fast music to keep your heart rate elevated. (If your baby is in a front carrier, be cautious when turning quickly and avoid bouncing.) Breathe deeply or sing out loud to monitor your exertion level; you are in a safe heart rate zone if you can talk or sing without losing your breath.
You also can place your baby in a bouncy seat or swing and dance around him. Make your movements large and animated (reach above your head and stretch your arms out to the sides, for example) and maintain eye contact with him.
The benefits: Dancing provides a light cardiovascular workout that involves all the major muscle groups and improves balance and coordination. It’s also sure to put you in a good mood, no matter how tired and stressed you may be.
You can do this series of moves while you spend quality playtime with your baby. Do these two exercises in the order listed. The benefits: Curls strengthen the abs and help support your lower back.
1. CURL-UPS Lie faceup 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 your fingers wrapped around his torso [A]. Contract your abs and lift your head, neck and shoulder blades off the floor in 2 counts; lower in 3 counts [B]. Exhale through your mouth as you curl up, drawing your abs up and in. Do 15–20 reps. Rest and play, then do 1 more set.
2. REVERSE BABY CURLS Lie faceup on the floor and bring your knees toward your chest; place your baby on your shins [A]. Contract your abs to gently tilt your hips up off the floor as you lift your head and shoulders off the floor at the same time [B]. Lower and repeat (this will rock him forward and back). Do 15–20 reps. Rest and play, then do 1 more set.
The benefits: Presses strengthen the upper and middle back, shoulders, triceps and biceps.
3. BABY OVERHEAD PRESSES Sit up cross-legged, holding your baby in front of your chest with your elbows bent [A]. Lift your baby overhead until your arms are nearly straight [B]. Pause, lower and repeat. Do 10 reps, rest and play, then do 2 more sets.
4. BABY BENCH PRESSES Lie faceup on the floor with your knees bent. Contract your abs and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold your baby securely and bring him close to your chest [A]. Gently straighten your arms without locking your elbows [B]. Pause, say “peekaboo!” and lower your baby to the starting position. Do 10 reps, rest and play, then do 2 more sets.
pliés and walking lunges
Keep your baby nestled closely against you in a front carrier and make sure his head is well supported. Begin with 2 minutes of Baby Dancing to warm up, then alternate 1 minute of Baby Pliés with 1 minute of Walking Lunges. Alternate the combination 4 times for a total of 4 minutes. To cool down, walk for 2 minutes, then take your baby out of the carrier and do a full-body stretch for 2 minutes. The benefits: Pliés and lunges tone the quadriceps, hamstrings, buttocks and calves.
5. BABY PLIÉS Place your feet wider than hip distance and turn your feet out slightly. Keep your abs drawn in and bend your legs, lowering your hips and pressing weight into the heels (shown). Slowly straighten your legs and squeeze your buttocks to return to standing.
6. WALKING LUNGES Stand tall and look straight ahead. Take a large step forward with your left leg and bend both knees at a 90-degree angle. Keep your front knee in line with your ankle and your back knee approaching the floor, heel lifted (shown). Push off the back leg and step together. Repeat with opposite leg.