Okay mama, so you had your baby and love your cute, little bundle of joy. You’ve made it through the 1st couple of weeks and you’re getting use to your “new life”. Now it’s time to start taking care of yourself again too… More specifically, it’s time to get back into shape! For a fortunate few (usually those young mamas in their 20’s), this just happens but if you’re like me, you’ll need to put in some effort to feel strong and healthy again. And also to burn away that stubborn belly fat that just seems to stick! BUT how? What if your little one refuses to stay asleep while you’re working out or hates the child-care facilities available at your local gym? What if you don’t have a home fitness system or anyone that can help take care of the baby while you take care of yourself? It’s time for a Mommy and Baby workout session!
Taking the 1st steps
Over the past month I’ve slowly but surely started exercising and getting back into shape. It’s been a slow process… Much slower than I had hoped but I’m not giving up. A few week ago I shared the snacks and supplements I’m using to boost my body from the inside out. I have also become more active and I am taking part in a little squat challenge. All of these changes are good but it’s the “getting active” part that has been my biggest challenge. It’s hard finding time to exercise when you have 3 little ones craving your attention. Like most moms, I always prioritise everyone else’s needs before my own and still feel guilty when taking “me time”.
Having a Cactic Fitness Home gym is amazing but even 20 minutes of uninterrupted workout time can be impossible when you’re settling kids back into school and dealing with a teething baby. My solution; “if you can’t beat them… make them join you!” Mommy and baby workouts are a great 1st step to take when exercising seems impossible.
Let’s do it!
It’s not just good for you but also fun and a great way to spend time with your baby, not to mention the wonderful example you’re setting for your little one. We live passive lives in front of our desktops and screens. We need to take active steps to show our children a life where we use and challenge our bodies, keeping them fit,healthy and strong.
What better way than leading by example and having them be part of the journey. A Mommy and baby workout is also an easy and affordable option and most babies love “working out” with mom.
I’m no fitness expert, just a mom getting back into shape. This workout is intended for mommy and baby to bond and spend time together while getting active. I does not take moms with Diastasis Recti into account, I’m still working on that post. It is however great for all those other mamas also wanting to get fit, healthy and strong post pregnancy.
20 -30 minutes is an ideal exercise time when it comes to mommy and me workouts. It’s enough time to get a sweat on and also keep baby happy. You can do the routine below wherever you are, we just like doubling up on the health benefits and enjoying the fresh outdoors. No need for any fancy equipment either. We have a yoga mat handy for when mommy or baby needs to lie down but a towel works fine too. Before you start make sure baby is awake and alert, not hungry, thirsty or in need of a diaper change. Now let’s play!
The benefits of squating are endless and you can read all about them here. It’s probably the easiest thing you can do to get your entire body burning fat (especially when activating your arms while holding up a baby). I squat to get the circulation going, start burning fat and tone my abs, legs and butt. We always start with our squats as kind of a warm up telling my body to get ready to start working!
HOW TO: Keep your back straight, spine relaxed with your chest and shoulders up. Keep looking straight ahead at baby. As you squat down, focus on keeping your knees in line with your feet and your weight in your heels as if to sit down onto a chair. Do not lift those heels. Stay in the squat position for a moment before straightening your body upright. (Your elbows may touch your knees but should not rest on them or be used to push yourself up again.)
We do 3 sets of 10-20 reps.
Now lets bench press that baby.
This exercise will obviously become more challenging as baby grows but no worries, your arm should be getting stronger too. It’s important to focus on not just using your arm but pressing baby up using your chest muscles too. This will help combat mom boobs and tone flabby arms.
HOW TO: Lie flat on your back. Squeeze shoulder-blades. Feet flat on the floor. Place baby on stomach. Lift baby by straighten your arms directly above your shoulders. Lock elbows. Take a deep breath.
Downward movement: Lower baby to your mid-chest as low as possible without baby touching your chest. (Except for those little, kicking legs of course – now way to control them.) Hold your breath at the bottom.
Upward movement: “Press” baby from your mid-chest to above your shoulders. Make sure to keep your bum on the floor. Once again, lock your elbows at the top and take a deep breath.
We do 3 sets of 10-20 reps. Remember lifting and lowering baby at a controlled pace and throw in a kiss or two while you’re at it.
The Pelvic Lift
This might seem like a useless exercise but I think this is a MUST DO for all moms. During pregnancy we stain our backs and afterwards carrying a baby around keeps building on that tension. Pelvic lifts are perfect for relieving lower back tension while working out your glutes, hamstrings and abs too. It also provides muscle strengthening across the entire back plus you get to look into your cutie’s eyes while you’re doing it.
HOW TO: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Keep your knees shoulder-width apart, and squeeze your buttock muscles while lifting your pelvis upwards. Keep your upper body (chest and head) on the floor. Hold baby comfortably. Keep that position and count to five, then release.
We do 3 sets of 10-20 reps.
I LOVE doing lunges. It’s such a great core and glute exercise (2 places this mombod needs urgent help with). It’s also Ava’s favourite giving her the giggles every time!
HOW TO: Keep your upper body straight, with your shoulders back and relaxed, chin up. Always engage your core. Step forward with one leg, lowering your hips until both knees are bent at about a 90-degree angle. Make sure your front knee is above your ankle, not pushed out too far, and make sure your other knee doesn’t touch the floor. Keep the weight in your heels as you push back up to the starting position.
We do 4 sets of 10- 20 reps. Remember to alternate the leg with which you step forward and keep baby to the side you are stepping.
Raised leg Crunches (optional)
Good old crunches. Abdominal crunches are a classic core exercise and the only way to get those pretty lines running down your stomach. This exercise won’t burn fat. Instead it gradually tones your abs and oblique muscles into the shape of the popular six pack. It’s not intended to strengthen but rather “sculpt” – If you get what I’m saying. Basically crunches alone don’t do much but including them in you workout will make a difference. Always be cautious when performing crunches and especially when adding weight to them, this could cause damage to your lumbar spine. Never use too much weight and don’t rush through your reps.
Important: Moms suffering from Diastasis Recti should not do any crunches at all.
HOW TO: Lie down on your back, feet flat. Hold baby on your chest. Brace your core and lift your shoulders and upper back off the floor while at the same time lifting your feet. This is your starting position. Crunch by lifting baby in the air and bringing your legs towards your chest. Hold at the top for a moment and then retract back down to the starting position. – The less your knees are bent while feet are in the air, the more difficult the exercise.
I’m done after 2 sets of 10-20 reps.
Assisted push ups
I have NO arm strength so for now assisted push-ups will have to do. Stronger mamas can do them the classic way. Just be carefully not to go overboard, falling onto your little one.
HOW TO: I keep my knees bent and on the floor. Your shoulders should be over your wrists and your body should form a straight line from head to toe (knee in my case). Keep your core engaged and don’t let your hips sag. Next, slowly bend your elbows and lower your chest towards baby. Then, press upwards back to how you started.
For now I stay at 3 sets of 10-20 reps
VERY IMPORTANT: Before you start working out, get the okay from your doctor. Also keep baby’s size in mind when customising your workout to meet your needs. Your little one might become too big or heavy to enjoy a mommy and me workout if you’re unable to hold them properly. Also don’t do exercises with very a young baby unable to hold their head up, it could lead to injury.
That’s it. 6 exercises to kick start my mombod back into shape. For best results we try to do a combination of 4-5 exercises from our mommy and me workout, 3-4 times a week. Depending on what my “mini-personal trainer” let’s me complete before nap time.
Thank you for reading this post. I would really like to hear your thought and suggestions on our mommy and me workout. Also please share your tips on getting back into shape and being a happy, healthy mama by leaving a comment below. Become part of the #mombodsunited movement – because all mamas are beautiful and strong and deserve to feel so too.
PHOTO CREDIT | Anje-Ilana Nel from Madison and West.