As a mom, it can be difficult to find the time to work out. Plus, to make things even more challenging, hitting the gym often requires hiring a babysitter. And at-home workouts? Most babies want to be in Mom’s arms, not watching Mom work out from the sidelines.
The newest trend in postpartum workouts, baby-wearing classes, involves simply strapping your baby to your body, BABYBJÖRN-style, and working out like you would in pretty much any other fitness class.
You can see the appeal, right? Keep your baby close, be hands-free, and get in a workout—it’s a pretty great deal!
Many of these classes are led by instructors who aren’t well-educated in postpartum recovery. They’re often a Mom who is interested in helping other Moms get active after they have their babies, and they don’t take into account the special considerations needed for new Moms to stay safe and healthy post-delivery.
To be clear, I love that women are so passionate about helping other women become active post-baby. I just want everyone involved to stay as safe and healthy as possible! To do that, here are 4 key things to keep in mind when following or leading a baby-wearing workout (and stay tuned for an effective baby-wearing workout at the end of this article!).
Extremely Important Reminders for Baby-Wearing Workouts
1. Strengthen Your Core and Pelvis First
Before wearing your baby and adding physical activity into that scenario, please ensure that you’ve completed a good core and pelvic floor restoration program. (FYI, after giving birth, it’s important to restore strength to your core and pelvic floor before beginning any workout.) Wearing your baby is physically demanding and can create stress for your core and pelvic floor. Your core and pelvic floor muscles need to be functioning safely and effectively in order to handle that extra load (the baby on your body!) without injury to your low back, pelvic floor, hips, knees, etc.
2. Maintain Good Body Alignment
Keep good positioning to allow your core and floor to work optimally. A couple of general alignment cues: keep an “untucked” bum, with a gentle arch in your low back. Keep your ribcage stacked directly over your hips
The position on the right is a better alignment for my body. My bum is untucked, and I have a nice arch through the lower back. In the picture on the left, my tailbone is tucking under, and I’ve lost the natural curve through the spine.
3. Keep Breathing
Inhale during eccentric or “easy” part of the exercise and exhale during the concentric or “tough part of the exercise. Making sure to engage your core and pelvic floor (scoop your belly button up) as you perform the exercise’s concentric movement.
Remember The “3E” Rule:
- Exhale: do a simple, easy exhale breath
- Engage: do your core and floor connection (think about drawing the front of your hips bones together, and your belly button up towards your sternum)
- Exert: do the toughest part of the exercise
For example, to stand up from a squat, start your exhale breath at the bottom of the squat as you begin to rise, engage your core and pelvic floor,, and stand back up.
4. Tune Into Your Body
Check in with yourself and be honest about how your body is feeling during and after the workout. If at any point in the workout, you have pelvic pain, back pain, or feel heaviness in your pelvic floor, stop, sit, and rest.
Interested in giving a baby-wearing workout a try?
Try performing the following full-body strength workout while wearing your baby in a secure carrier, such as a Mei Tei or a soft-structured carrier (SSC).
Note: Women often find that wearing the baby on their back makes keeping proper body alignment easier and doesn’t create as much strain throughout the low back and abdominals, so if your baby is big enough for a back-loaded baby carrier, that is something to consider.
To do this workout, you will need light- or medium-weight dumbbells as well as either resistance bands and mini resistance bands or a cable machine..
Perform three sets of Circuit 1 and Circuit 2. Rest up to 30 seconds between exercises and 90 to 120 seconds between sets.
1A. Reverse Lunges: 8-10 reps per side
- Be sure to keep your lunge stance short to medium length
- Inhale to lunge down and exhale to get back into the starting position
1B. Seated Hammer Curls: 12-15 reps
- Feel yourself seated on your sitz bones
- Control the movement both up and down
1C. Split Stance One-Arm Chest Presses: 8-10 reps per side
- Lean your upper body slightly forward
- Squeeze your back leg’s glutes to help increase your stability
2A. Bodyweight Squats: 10-15 reps
- Inhale to squat down and exhale to stand up
- Watch that you aren’t slumping into a “tucked bum” position at the top of your squat
2B. Seated Two-Arm Rows: 12-15 reps
- Feel yourself seated on the sitz bones
- Exhale to pull in, then inhale to straighten the arms
2C. Lateral Band Walks/Band Shuffle: 10-15 short steps in each direction
- Use either a full-length resistance band or a medium mini band
- Keep a ¼ squat-like position as you walk
If you want more information on the exercises that are safe to perform after pregnancy as well as the ones to avoid, download our FREE report here.
It’s great for brand-new mamas, although many of the exercises are also appropriate for women who are much farther along in their postpartum recovery but haven’t yet done specific exercises to heal their core and pelvic floor.
So if you or anyone you know has had a baby, and hasn’t done a specific core and pelvic floor healing protocol, make sure you grab your FREE report here.