The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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No one expects you to look like a supermodel right after giving birth. But you can regain tone, strength and flexibility with this workout designed especially for new moms. The following moves were put together by Kathy Kaehler, fitness consultant to NBC’s “Today” show and author of Real-World Fitness (St. Martin’s Press, 1999), to help Cindy Crawford (and all new mothers) get back into shape in the weeks and months following childbirth. “This workout can be used by any new mom because it starts out very slowly, it’s not threatening and [is] easy to follow,” says Kathy. “Yet it’s challenging because it consists of new and traditional exercises.”
You can see Kathy and Cindy in their new video, “A New Dimension: A Balanced Approach to Fitness” (Good Times Entertainment, $15; to order, call 1-877-ESTYLES or visit www.babystyle. com). It includes a no-sweat program, a slightly more challenging workout, and a core strength and cardio portion.
Here, we’ve provided gentle moves that can be done in the first days after giving birth (with your doctor’s approval, of course). At six weeks postpartum, or whenever you get your doctor’s approval, you can begin with Kathy and Cindy’s core workout (“The Core 4,”), then at eight weeks add the fifth and sixth exercises. This routine will help you get in better shape for all the bending and lifting you’ll need to do as a new mom, and it’ll get your body back in prepregnancy shape quickly.
If you’ve had a vaginal delivery with no complications, you can begin doing mild exercise the day after you’ve had your baby, with your doctor’s approval. The following exercises can help you ease back into movement and retrain muscles that were stressed during childbirth. If you have any discomfort, stop and call your doctor. Continue with these simple moves until you’re ready for more rigorous activity; then use them as a warm-up later.
1. Kegels Contract the muscles around the vagina (imagine stopping a stream of urine) and hold for l0 seconds; then slowly release. Aim for 5 sets of l0 reps at a time; do 3–4 times a day. Strengthens pelvic-floor muscles and helps prevent urinary incontinence.
2. Tilts and Bridges Lying in bed or on floor, knees bent, feet flat, inhale and expand abdomen, then contract abs as tightly as possible, pulling navel in toward your spine. At the same time, tilt pelvis upward, bringing hips toward lower ribs. Aim for at least 15 reps per day, progressing to 20–25 per day. To progress: Lift hips all the way off the floor to a bridge position until you feel a stretch in the front of your hips and thighs; hold this position for 20 seconds, then lower and repeat 4–6 times. Strengthens abdominals.