3 ways to shed pregnancy weight
Once you get the go-ahead to exercise after giving birth, try these fun activities to get your post-baby body back into shape
Get in shape after giving birth
For new moms, finding the time and energy to exercise can be a challenge. But getting back into a regular workout routine after childbirth can make you feel good about your body again. “Exercising is a way to feel connected to your body, to feel sexy and strong,” says Samantha Montpetit-Huynh, a pre- and postnatal fitness specialist at Core Expectations in Toronto.
According to the postpartum exercise guidelines jointly approved by the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) and The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC), many types of exercise, including brisk walking, can be slowly resumed in the six weeks after delivery. It is recommended that women use their six-week postpartum checkup as an opportunity to talk with their obstetric care provider about more vigorous exercise and any concerns they have about their fitness routine.
Once you’ve consulted with your care provider and are able to start rigorous exercising, here are three options for working out with your baby.
This workout session consists of cardio drills, strength-training exercises and stretching, while your baby is securely positioned in the stroller. Classes are held outdoors in the spring, summer and fall. They’re not for new moms, says Montpetit-Huynh: “Classes should be held off for a minimum of three months postpartum.” Moms power-walk or jog with their baby in the stroller, and perform intervals of exercises (such as squats) while strollers remain stationary. The class ends with abdominal and stretching exercises performed while lying down on a towel or mat that you place in front of the stroller.
If you find the class too intense, Montpetit-Huynh suggests modifying the moves according to your fitness level and readiness. “If everyone’s doing jumping jacks and you’re finding that difficult, do stepping jacks instead.”
Mom-and-baby boot camp
This class offers a total body workout that targets all the major muscle groups-you will perform a variety of drills focusing on strength, power, agility, balance, cardio and core. (While recommendations vary, Montpetit-Huynh suggests waiting until you are at least three months postpartum.) A typical one-hour class starts with a warm-up, during which moms carry their baby in a front or back carrier, depending on the size of the baby. “We then move on to a 20-minute strength component where your baby stays in the carrier so that their weight acts as resistance while you perform squats and lunges,” explains Angie Stenback, a postnatal fitness trainer and owner of Mommy Bootcamp in Oakville, Ont.
Next, moms put their babies in the centre of the room, and form a circle around them so that they can be monitored during the 20-minute cardio component, which includes running drills and burpees. This is followed by five minutes of core exercises, a stretching period and an interactive baby activity such as singing nursery rhymes.
Worried your child won’t co-operate while you try to get in your cardio workout? Don’t be: It’s a given that babies are unpredictable. Moms are encouraged to attend to their infant’s needs, and have the option to modify the moves so they can hold their baby. “In one class, a mom might be completely focused on the exercises because her baby has fallen asleep,” Stenback says. “In the next, the child may be fussy or need to be breastfed, and that’s fine-everyone in the class understands.”
Cycling with baby
If you are looking for a little less structure, consider cycling. Be sure to take the proper precautions, including biking on safe roads and wearing helmets, and consider using a bike trailer (a wheeled frame with a hitch system) instead of a rear-mounted seat, which can alter your centre of gravity and may increase your risk of falling.
As for how safe it is to bring baby along for the ride, that’s a decision for each parent to make. There are no federal guidelines for cycling with kids. According to Chariot, the Calgary-based manufacturer of bike trailers, industry-wide standards in North America strongly recommend children be at least one year old, wear a helmet and be able to fully sit up on their own before you go cycling with them. Some municipal guidelines concur-for example, the City of Toronto’s cycling safety guide suggests that a child be between 12 and 16 months and able to support the weight of his head with a helmet on before an experienced cyclist rides with that child.
No matter which postnatal fitness program you decide on, Montpetit-Huynh advises that you choose an activity suited to your personal tastes (so you’re more likely to stick with it), and taking stock of your current fitness level. “Getting back into an exercise routine postpartum is all about listening to your body, starting slow, and having a positive feeling of well-being.”