You may be eager to get back in shape after the birth of your baby, but it can be tough to find time to exercise when you’re juggling feedings, diaper changes and piles of laundry—all on minimal sleep. To the rescue: these fun, body-sculpting moves from the recently released book Pee Wee Pilates: Pilates for the Postpartum Mother and Her Baby (Da Capo Press, 2005).
Created by New York City Pilates instructor Holly Jean Cosner, this at-home workout is designed to strengthen your core—your abdominals, lower back, hips, buttocks and pelvic floor—the area most affected by pregnancy. The mat-based exercises allow you to stretch and strengthen your entire body and reduce tension without putting stress on the joints. In each of the moves, your baby is strategically placed to help you maintain proper form and focus and, at times, add resistance, Cosner explains.
Pee Wee Pilates provides an opportunity to stimulate your baby through movement, touch, eye contact and facial expressions, all of which can help enhance her cognitive development and motor skills, says the book’s co-author Stacy Malin, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in New York. Do the exercises when your baby is rested, calm and in a good mood. And don’t forget to smile, laugh, play and talk to your little buddy during the routine.
Check with your doctor before beginning this or any other postnatal exercise program. Wait at least 6 weeks after delivery, longer if you had a Cesarean section.
Do all 6 moves in the order shown (one leads naturally to the next) every other day. Start by doing each exercise 3–4 times and build up to 10 times, resting as needed. If you had a C-section, follow the special instructions in each caption until your incision has healed. Have blankets and pillows handy for any modifications, as well as to prop up your baby for comfort. Stop, rest and nurse, or just hold your baby whenever necessary.
1. HUNDREDS Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat, and your baby cradled securely on your thighs, maintaining eye contact. Inhale, then exhale as you draw your navel toward your spine and lift your head and shoulders off the floor. Raise your hands and let them hover 5–6 inches off the floor, palms down, shoulders back and down (shown). Pump your arms rhythmically, inhaling for 5 counts and exhaling for 5 counts (1 rep). Repeat up to 10 times. C-section option: Don’t raise your head. Strengthens abs and prepares you for the workout.