Planning ahead for ways to ensure a healthy postpartum lifestyle is an important part of your motherhood journey! While expecting, moving your body and getting plenty of exercise promotes healthy benefits for both Mama and baby. Once your little one arrives, the same thing holds true! While your body needs and deserves plenty of rest after a long pregnancy and following a delivery, setting yourself up for healthy habits once your body is ready and healed is just as important for Mama's body as it is for her overall wellbeing. Today we are sharing some ways that you can plan to stay active during your postpartum journey. The best part is...you can do all of these exercises right alongside your baby!
Please note that before you dive into any sort of postpartum exercises, you will want to be sure that you have given your body plenty of time to recover from delivery. Growing a baby and bringing it into the world is hard work! By allowing yourself time to fully recover, you are giving your body what it needs during this crucial time. About six weeks after your delivery, you will want to be sure to follow up with your midwife or care provider to ensure that your body is recovering well. Taking note of any pains or discomforts and sharing them with your care provider during this time is important. Once you are feeling physically well and your doctor has given you the go-ahead, easing back into an active lifestyle is fun and exciting! While you will likely feel physically and mentally tired during this period as caring for a new baby is tiring, keep in mind that working a little movement into your day will help you to naturally reenergize so that you can feel your very best. Here are some tried and true ways to do exactly that!
1. Get Walking
This first activity requires little prep work yet offers a whole lot of healthy benefits! Throw on your activewear and athletic shoes, load your baby up in the stroller, and head outside for a walk! You can walk around the neighborhood or head to a local walking trail. Use this time to put electronics away, breathe in the fresh air and move your body while bringing your baby along for the ride. The movement, coupled with breathing in the outdoors, has a way of recharging you mentally while promoting healthy circulation physically. This is an easy activity to start with slowly and build up your tolerance. Even if your goal is just ten minutes a day, soon you will be feeling ready to walk for longer periods and distances. You may even be able to invite a friend or neighbor along for the walk as a way to get in a little social time too, which we know is helpful for a new Mama who may feel otherwise cooped up in the house without much outside interaction in the early days of motherhood. Think about who is in your social circle and invite them along. Perhaps this can become a daily highlight for you both!
2. Stroller Squats & Lunges
This next exercise is a good one to do following an outdoor walk. With the baby secured in their stroller, stand behind the stroller and gently hold onto the handlebar. With feet about shoulder width apart, squat down while pushing your weight into your heels. As you do this, extend your stroller away from you until your arms are straight. Then, reverse the motions as you stand back up and pull the stroller back in. Repeat this movement 10-15 times. You also try this activity with a slight variation if you desire to do lunges. Simply copy the motions above while moving your legs into the lunge position. Try to do this 10-15 times for each leg.
3. Standing Leg Lifts
This exercise can be done with some help from the stroller, too. After you complete exercise 2 above, stand with feet about hip width apart and gently grip the stroller handle with both hands. Lift one leg up and out to the side as high as you can while keeping it straight and your toe pointed out, then drop it down as close as you can to the ground without letting it touch the ground. Repeat this movement 10-15 times, then switch sides.
4. Cat & Cow Pose
This exercise is more of a stretch, and it feels so good after a good, long walk! To complete, lay your baby down on a blanket or tummy time mat. You can kneel on your hands and knees above them and talk to them as you drop your hips, back and belly down towards the floor, while tilting your head and neck up towards the ceiling. Take a deep breath in as you perform this movement and hold the stretch for five seconds. Then, gently release as you bring your head and neck back down to look at your baby, lift your back and belly up until your back is curved and tuck your hips. Breathe out as you do this movement and hold for five seconds. Continue to complete this series of poses about 10 times as it will help to stretch your neck, shoulders, back and hips!
5. Baby Sit Ups
For this exercise, lay on your back with your knees to your chest. Gently lay your baby on their tummy over your shins, with their head peeking up and resting on the top of your knees. Bring your neck and upper torso up towards your knees and baby while bringing your legs as close into your torso as you can, then release. Each time you sit up, you can talk to your baby or give them a kiss. Continue these sit ups as many times as you can. Perhaps aim for 15-20, then take a rest.
For the Plank exercise, set yourself up similarly to the way you did for the Cat & Cow Poses we shared above. With the baby laying on their blanket looking up at you, prop yourself up over the top of them while resting on your elbows and toes in the plank position. Keep your back and legs naturally still and straight while tightening your abdominal muscles. You will feel your upper arms and shoulders working along with your abdominal muscles and even your legs. Hold yourself in the plank position for 20 seconds, then rest. Repeat up to 3-5 times.
7. Push Up Cuddles
To do these pushups, you will position yourself and your baby the same exact way you did for the plank exercise, but instead of holding that position, you will allow your body to drop down and come back up for a push up. When you lower yourself, you can smile at your baby, rub noses and let them know that you see them. Continue to do up to 15 push ups and then rest. Aim to do this sequence up to three times.
8. Babywearing Arm Weight Lifts
This exercise focuses on your arms and shoulders. Fasten your baby into your preferred babywearing carrier. A carrier with some structure to it would likely be best as it will help support the baby's weight so you can focus on your own body. Stand up straight and hold free weights as you lift your arms and work those muscles. Try to do this 15-20 times. You can lift your arms from your hips straight out to make a T-shape with them and your body. Or, you can start with both arms extended straight above your head and bring them down to make a T-shape with your body. Additionally, you can stretch your arms and weights out to your sides and gently fold them in towards your chest. These are all great variations to try while toning your upper body.
9. Back Stretch Helicopter
To do this movement, keep your baby in their babywearing carrier and move yourself into a squatted position with your toes, knees and hips gently facing outward. Lower your body into a semi-sitting position and straighten your arms out on either side of your. Then, twist your torso until one arm is reaching diagonally in front of you with the other stretching behind you. Gently turn to do the same on the other side and you will feel a slight stretch in your back, while strengthening your lower body muscles. Continue to move back and forth up to 10 times, then rest.
10. Fetal Position
This last exercise is a great one to end your workout with. Place your baby on the floor or in a lounger next to you and get your body in the fetal position on the floor. With your knees tucked up to your chest, your head facing down on the ground and both arms stretched out on the floor above your head, breathe in deeply. Hold that breath and stretch for five seconds, then breath out. Continue as you visualize your favorite place or simply just enjoy the simplicity of this stretch. You can hold this pose and breathe in deeply as long as it feels comfortable.
With so many ways to move your body while bringing your baby along with you, we hope these easy gentle exercises and stretches encourage you to get active during your postpartum journey. By doing these things, you will be helping your body and mind to recharge while paving the way for healthy habits with your new little family. What are some of your favorite ways to incorporate exercise into your days? Let us know below!
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