Finding the time and energy to work out is hard enough when you’re not pregnant or exhausted from running behind a toddler. But experts agree that exercising while pregnant or after giving birth is good for you. So how can you fit a gym session into your busy day, especially when going to the gym may not even be feasible during a pandemic?
The best and easiest way to get moving is to exercise with your baby! It means you don’t need someone else to look after the baby while you hit the gym. You don’t even have to leave the house or get into your ‘workout’ clothes. Not to mention this precious time can be used to bond with your newborn as well.
Should you exercise while pregnant or after giving birth?
This question comes up quite often and the answer is a resounding yes. Every pregnancy is different, whether it’s your first or fourth time. You should always consult your doctor before embarking on an exercise regimen, especially if you were not especially active prior to your pregnancy.
As long as your doctor permits, exercising offers numerous benefits for mothers both before and after giving birth. Some of them include:
- Reduce feelings of stress, depression, and anxiety
- Strengthen the body for the athletic event called labor
- Bonding time with your newborn baby, yay!
- Minimize the risks of:
- Preterm birth
- Cesarean birth
- Excessive weight gain
- Gestational diabetes or hypertensive disorders such as preeclampsia
- Speed up your postpartum recovery
Before we dive into the various exercises you can do, always remember a few things. One is to listen to your body. If you experience pain or soreness with any exercise, stop doing it and consult your doctor. If you’re exercising with your baby as part of your workout, make sure they can sit up on their own. Always make sure to hold them securely, whether in your arms or strapped in a carrier.
Exercises for expectant mothers
As with any workout session, don’t forget to warm up gently beforehand. It prepares your busy for the various positions during the workout. The same applies to stretching after the session.
Additional tips for pregnant women include:
- Drink plenty of water
- Don’t become overheated, so hot yoga is not a good idea
- Take rest breaks when you need to
- Avoid exercises that make you lie on your back for too long
- Avoid contact sports or exercises where you might lose your balance and fall down
Brisk walking is an ideal low-impact cardiovascular activity that’s safe for pregnant women. Unless you have health conditions that preclude walking, most women can do this. It can be difficult to walk outside during the winter months but even a few turns around the block can do a world of good.
Exercising in the water is always fun and you can safely go swimming while pregnant. As long as you avoid jumping or diving into the pool, a few laps every day can do wonders for your mind and body.
Sometimes your regular yoga routine can be safe during pregnancy as well. But you might want to consult your doctor or a prenatal expert before getting started. You can also find hundreds of videos online that show positions specifically tailored for pregnant women.
Exercises for mommy and baby
What happens after your little one is finally here? Between the sleep deprivation and exhaustion, you might be tempted to skip working out. But a good session can actually improve your mood and help you sleep better.
Peek a boo push-ups
This is a fun one that most babies will enjoy. Position baby between your arms on the exercise mat. Do your pushups like normal but engage your baby while doing them. Make funny faces, play peekaboo, or kiss them when you drop to the floor.
Mom and me planks
Again, this one is similar to the pushups from above. Put your baby on the floor and position your forearms on both sides. Keep your busy straight, feet on your toes, and tighten the abdominal muscles. Keep this position for as long as you can while talking to your baby or indulge in a little staring contest!
Hold baby in your arms against your chest. Position your feet about 2 feet apart. Keeping your back straight and pushing your butt out, lower your body to a squatting position. Come back up again and repeat about 10 – 12 times.
Even if you don’t have time to do any of these exercises, you can always take the baby out for a walk in their stroller. It gets both of you out of the house and breathing in the fresh air. Just make sure to maintain physical distance from other people for your health and to protect the delicate immune system of your baby.