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The right gear can transform working out from an uncomfortable chore to a welcome outing for new moms and their babies. This is the message I heard from countless mothers while doing research for Walking Through Pregnancy and Beyond (Lyons Press, 2004), which I co-wrote with Mark and Lisa Fenton. And it’s why this postpartum fitness program is centered on three key pieces of equipment: a front baby carrier, a backpack-style carrier and a jogging stroller. Each accommodates your growing baby at a different developmental stage so that she stays safe and comfortable while you get mobile and get your body back.
Because your strength and stamina will, ideally, increase steadily as you recover from pregnancy and childbirth, this program consists of three progressively more demanding exercise phases: walking, hill climbing and walk/jog workouts.
A plus: The motion of walking will soothe even the crankiest little one. Note: See “Postpartum Moves” for easy exercises you can do before or after this workout program.
Benefit :Keeps baby close and secure so you can bond and get some exercise.
Look for Support for baby’s head, neck (it should keep her chin off her chest) and spine. Make sure that the carrier is easy to put on, take off and adjust. A lumbar panel that buckles onto shoulder straps to support your back is a plus. Be sure to carefully check weight requirements for the baby.
Our favorites: The BabyBjörn Baby Carrier Active (shown above; $119)
(Month 1) Until you get your doctor’s OK to resume exercising (usually at your six-week checkup, later if you’ve had a C-section), don’t do anything more than taking easy walks. If walking causes or exacerbates any bleeding, stop immediately and contact your doctor.
(Month 2) Start off slowly and gradually increase the length of your walks by 5 percent to 15 percent each week, taking several short walks instead of one longer one if you want. From now on, begin and end each workout with 5 minutes of easy walking to warm up and cool down. Note: Also begin a mini-stretching routine after each walk so it’s a habit by the time you add speed bursts, longer distances and hill climbs.
Monday | Two walks, 10 minutes each
Tuesday | Walk 20 minutes
Wednesday | Off
Thursday | Walk 20 minutes