As a new mom, it’s hard to fit anything in (sleep, a shower, a full meal), much less find time to exercise. In the first year of your newborn’s life, most of your time and energy is focused on your baby. But once you get in a groove, you actually start having a bit of energy to put back into yourself. And as all moms know, this is one of the most crucial times to devote attention to exercising and toning your own body, so you can stay strong and stress-free for your family.
Don’t despair, new moms! If you feel like you can’t fit in exercise with an infant at home, think again. Here are some easy workouts you can do while wearing — yes, wearing! — your baby.
As the name implies, babywearing refers to holding your infant on your body using a carrier. There are many different types, including wraps, slings, backpacks, and soft-structured carriers. The soft-structured designs are best for workouts because they provide ergonomic support for mom and a comfy ride for your baby.
New soft-structured carriers range in price from around $35 to $150 and above. If you can’t find a new one that fits your budget, visit a local consignment or secondhand store to find gently used carriers on the cheap. Either way, buying one is likely less expensive than a gym membership!
Once you have your carrier, make sure you know how to get your baby in and out of it safely. Also, check the sizing, selection, and wear of your baby carrier in order to reduce risk of injury. Follow package instructions, ask a store clerk, or even consult with an “expert” babywearing friend. While you exercise, make sure your carrier is tight enough so your baby won’t slip out. You should also be able to see your baby’s face (to monitor breathing) and have her close enough to kiss. With you and your little one geared up, it’s time to start sweating!
Consult with your doctor before starting an exercise program after the birth of your baby. Women who had uncomplicated vaginal deliveries may be able to begin light exercise within a few days or weeks. If you had a Cesarean delivery, extensive vaginal repair, or an otherwise complicated delivery, you may need to wait a bit longer. Also, if you experience severe perineal lacerations or diastasis recti, some of these exercises should be avoided or modified.
But if you’re ready to challenge yourself beyond walking, make sure to ask your doctor what exercise is appropriate after your four- to six-week postpartum visit.
One of the easiest exercises you can do while wearing baby is simple walking. Slip on some sneakers, put your little one in the carrier, and head out the door. If the weather is cold or rainy, consider going to a local mall or other large indoor area so you can log some miles inside. The best part about this workout is that you can typically start doing it soon after delivery. If walking isn’t enough of a challenge for you, go for a hike or hit some hills.
Yoga ball bounce
Some women invest in yoga balls to ease back and pelvic pain during pregnancy. This piece of equipment can be used long after delivery as well. New Age Hippy Mama came up with an amazing nap-time yoga ball bounce workout that may even put your tiny one to sleep. With your baby in the carrier, sit on the ball with your knees open in a V (think the 10 and 2 o’clock positions). Start bouncing, but don’t let gravity take control. Engage your core and quads and incorporate some twists as well.
When you’re ready to step up your workout, the CARiFiT Post-Natal Foundations by BeFIT is a great place to start. The low-impact mix of moves is designed to get you back into fitness gently, and it’s specifically designed to do with your baby. It takes just 15 minutes to complete and includes a warmup, arm raises, alternating lunges, standing side crunches, knee-ups, squats, and cool-down stretches.
For some grace and dance-inspired sweating, try this 30-minute babies at the barre workout by Brittany Bendall. You’ll need a light set of hand weights and a chair to act as a ballet barre. Start with a series of leg-burning pliés before moving into classic pulse-squats and other moves that help lengthen, strengthen, and improve posture. If your baby can’t quite make it through the whole 30 minutes, consider splitting the session into 10-minute chunks throughout the day.
Grab your baby and a set of 5 to 12-pound weights to complete Sterling Jackson’s 20-minute total body babywearing workout. You’ll start with some deadlifts and curl-to-presses, move on to walking lunges and rows, and then finish with squats to kick-backs and chair-dips. There are three “supersets” in all before you take your baby off to do some ab exercises. Go through each set a total of three times with 10 to 15 repetitions of each move.
This 10-minute babywearing yoga sequence by Eva K. is designed completely with standing postures to help strengthen your legs and pelvic area. You’ll flow through lunges, Chair pose, Tree pose, Goddess pose, and more. Finally, end with a standing Savasana relaxation pose. Be sure to include regular, focused breathing throughout, and connect your breaths to your movements.
You may also want to check at local gyms and studios to see if they offer babywearing classes or stroller exercise sessions. Variations are popping up across the United States and beyond. Tustin, California boasts an amazing babywearing ballet. Prairie Crossfit in Winnipeg, Canada offers a babywearing bootcamp. There’s even a babywearing Zumba class in Lusby, Maryland. Look around and you may be surprised by what you find!
You may be taking care of your baby, but that doesn’t have to mean you can’t take care of yourself. With a tool like a baby carrier, you can bond with your child and become one incredibly fit mom. On the flip side, if you are getting very little sleep and finding it difficult to work out, don’t be hard on yourself. This, too, shall pass. Even a quick 10-minute sweat session every now and then can give you a much-needed boost.