working it out
Grab the baby and a friend or two and cruise to the nearest park for an easy walk and strength training.
Because some studies have shown compositional and taste changes in breast milk after very strenuous exercise, many experts recommend that you nurse or pump before exercising. This will make you more comfortable and keep your baby happy throughout your session. A good support bra also is recommended (I sometimes wore two to get the support I needed). Make sure you take it off between workouts, though, to prevent clogged milk ducts.
As your baby rapidly grows, it may be frustrating to see how slow your own progress can be. Swayne offers this caution: “Remember, you’ve got a new baby to take care of, and whether or not your body gets perfect right away is not the most important thing.” Just try to stay active and the changes will happen. Keep yourself healthy and happy; it can only be good for you and your baby.J
6 weeks postpartum and beyond
By 6 weeks postpartum you’ll probably be ready for a tougher workout (make sure your doctor gives you the go-ahead). The following exercise program, designed by Suzanne Olson, AFAA- and ACE-certified group exercise instructor and personal trainer in Philadelphia, focuses on strengthening your abdominal muscles, arms and legs. They can be done right in your own neighborhood — no equipment or gym is needed. Get some friends or your husband to join you, bring baby in her stroller, and head out of the house.
Begin by walking briskly for about 10 minutes; then use structures around you, such as a park bench, fence or flagpole, to help you perform the exercises. They are designed to be done as a circuit that alternates the body parts you’re exercising. Do a set of 8–12 reps per exercise, following the order shown. When you can do 12 reps comfortably, add a second circuit.
When you’ve completed the workout, spend some time in the park enjoying your friends and baby; walk briskly home.
warm–up: Your 10-minute brisk walk to the park will serve as your warm-up.
Cool–down: Complete your strength workout by stretching all the muscles you worked. Be sure to include stretches for your legs, chest, shoulders and back. Hold each stretch for 20–30 seconds to the point of mild tension without bouncing.
Frequency: Do this program 2–3 times per week, depending on your — and your baby’s — schedule.
1. Squats With Hip Extension Stand 2 feet from the back of a park bench with feet hip-width apart, legs straight but not locked. Place both hands on the top of the bench for support; contract your abdominals. Bend both knees, lowering your hips into a squat [A]. Straighten legs to a standing position; at the top of the move, extend one leg off the ground behind you, tightening buttocks [B]. Lower foot and repeat the squat, lifting the other leg next time through. Continue to squat and alternate leg lifts (1 leg lift on each side equals 1 rep). Strengthens buttocks, quadriceps, hamstrings.