The month-birthdays continue, with 7 months rolling by last weekend. He now stays awake for 2-3 hours at a time and is eating less frequently (every 3-4 hours) during the day. It is becoming easier to include him in many daily activities like shopping, visiting friends, and working out, because his awake-without-crying time is progressively longer. This is especially nice for my daily work-outs.
Exercise is so important. It is crucial to the health and well-being of your entire family. It is especially important for women in the months following pregnancy to avoid those pregnancy pounds becoming permanent, and to help with mood and energy. In addition, children who grow up in active families are much more likely to develop healthy lifestyles later. I could go on and on listing the benefits of exercise, but most of us already know them. But with the added stress of a baby for a working mother, where does one find the time to exercise? The name of the game is multi-tasking. I exercise while I commute or spend time with my son.
I get my cardio by riding my bike to work every day. It’s about a 15 minute ride each way, so I there’s 30 minutes of daily cardio without even thinking about it. Walking is great exercise too, but I live just a bit far from work to make that practical. Live to far to bike or walk to work? Consider parking or getting off transit further away from work to get in some walking. If you’re not pumping at lunch like I am, lunch breaks can also be used for a quick jog or 30 minutes at a nearby gym. On the weekends, take to the outdoors with baby in a jogging stroller. You will both benefit from the fresh air and change of scenery.
With cardio under my belt for the day, my next concern is toning. Before baby, I went to the gym 3 times a week after work. Even on maternity leave, I left him with hubby to go twice a week. But now I want to spend those precious non-work hours with my son. He grows too fast for me to miss an extra hour a day. My second day back to work, I called to place my gym membership on hold and went out to buy a set of barbells. For half an hour 3 or 4 times a week, baby and I work out together!
I hold him and lift him while I do step-aerobics and light toning to warm up.
He’s a great extra little weight for lounges and squats.
He loves to sit on my belly when I do crunches,
and to lay on the mat while I do push-ups over him.
I count out loud and he really gets to cracking up at me! Most of the time anyway – last week my hair scared him. I was doing push-ups over him when I caught him staring at the pony tail atop my head. I could see from my shadow it was sticking out in all directions. So I shook my head, thinking I’d get a laugh. But a look of horror came over the poor thing’s face and he started crying! We had to take a break for that one. Other than that, it’s been all fun and games for him.
When I want to lift a few weights, I put him in an activity saucer nearby so he can still see me, but far enough to be out of danger if I drop a weight. Not that I’m planning on dropping them, but you never know. He is usually pretty content there while I finish up. When he was younger it was a bouncy seat instead and I had to keep things short, but now I can usually even pass him off to hubby and grab a quick shower before he starts getting fussy!
There’s other ways to work out with baby too, this is just what works for me. Like Pilates or yoga? There’s videos available that incorporate baby into the moves. It’s all about being creative. Exercising with baby is a great way to bond and gets you both off to a good healthy-lifestyle start. With all these ideas for post-partum exercise, there’s no more excuses. Get moving!
EXERCISE WHILE PREGNANT
I credit my quick delivery to maintaining my exercise routine throughout my pregnancy. I mean the entire pregnancy – I was lifting weights at the gym on my due date, a Friday, then again 2 days later on Monday before delivering on Wednesday! The doctor OK’d doing everything I did prior to pregnancy with a couple of modifications – from the start, she said not to life anything heavier than 25 pounds, and after 4 months no lying flat on my back. She even said crunches were OK “as long as they were comfortable.”
I’m not sure crunches are ever “comfortable,” but it was about this time last year they stopped being whatever the more appropriate word there would be. I was about 4 months, so stopped lying flat on my back for things like chest presses too. I used to love to take a class that incorporated weight training, cardio and core called “SET” at 24 hour fitness. I made modifications and substitutions when the rest of the class did things I couldn’t.
When they did crunches, I did other things for my core like get on my hands and knees and stretch and retract opposite legs and arms, or (also on hands and knees) alternating arching my back up and relaxing it. For chest presses, I removed one side of the risers under our step so I was at an angle, or I did girl-push-ups. Although they weren’t off-limits, I had a hard time with lounges because of pain in my hips, so I just did more squats during this time. Squats are great during pregnancy because they exercise the same muscles you will need for delivery. Those and kegels, but I generally didn’t do those in SET class. I topped it all off with a pregnancy yoga tape at home once a week.
I got some weird looks when I was at the gym. Many people are under the mis-conception it is bad to exercise during pregnancy. I learned to ignore them. I knew I was not doing anything my doctor had not approved, and that exercise would make me feel better now as well as make delivery and recovery easier.