The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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Quick (but effective) workouts:
Feel you have no time to exercise? We’ve put together three “Quickie” workouts just for new moms. They can be done whenever you find the time — each one takes no more than 10–15 minutes. To help you regain strength and flexibility in the first few weeks after giving birth, try our easy first exercises, below. You can start them (with your doctor’s approval, of course) as soon as you get home from the hospital.
Easy first exercises
If you have your doctor’s go-ahead, you can begin doing these exercises (not shown) in the first days after giving birth.
1. KEGELS Contract the muscles around the vagina (as if holding back the flow of urine), hold for l0 seconds, then slowly release. Aim for 5 sets of l0 reps at a time; do 3–4 times during the day. Strengthens the pelvic-floor muscles.
2. STANDING SHOULDER BLADE PINCHES Stand with your feet hip-width apart, legs straight but not locked, arms relaxed by your sides. Contract your abdominal muscles. Keeping your shoulders relaxed, squeeze your shoulder blades down and back as if trying to hold a pencil between them. Begin with 10–15 reps, building up to 2 sets of 20 reps. Strengthens the upper back muscles.
3. BELLY BREATHING Lie faceup on the floor, knees bent, feet flat; inhale and expand your abdomen, then exhale and contract your abdominal muscles as tightly as possible, pulling your navel in toward your spine. At the same time, tilt your pelvis upward. Aim for 15 reps per day. When you can do 15 reps, begin to lift your head, neck and shoulders with each ab contraction. Strengthens the abdominal muscles.
4. COMPLETE BACK STRETCHES Sit erect on a chair with your legs separated hip-width apart, knees bent and feet on the floor a comfortable distance from your body. Place one hand under each thigh just above the knee. Contract abs; still holding onto your thighs, lean backward and round your entire back. Drop head to follow the natural curve of your upper spine. Hold this stretch for 8–l0 seconds, breathing naturally. Pull yourself back to the starting position, straightening spine. Stretches the upper back and shoulder muscles.
Quickie #1: Baby Dancing:
Hold your baby in your arms or use a front carrier that holds him close to your body. Put on some great music and dance! For variety, try intervals of slow and fast songs; this will also help keep your heart rate elevated. (If you’ve got your baby in a front carrier, be cautious when turning quickly.) You can also place him in a bouncy seat or swing and dance around him. Make your movements large and animated while maintaining eye contact with him. He’ll love it!
THE BENEFITS: Dancing provides a light cardio workout that involves all major muscle groups and improves balance and coordination. And it can put you in a good mood!