Toronto Zoo

Five reasons to exercise with your baby

 

By Natasha Marchand

An image of a postpartum body was a rare thing to come across until the birth of Prince George. Just 24 hours after giving birth, Kate Middleton was snapped proudly sporting her newborn baby and her post-baby bump.

 

It was a shocking sight for those who base their ideals of a postpartum body on celebrities and the latest tabloid. One reporter was even overheard saying "why does she still look pregnant?". The truth is, most (if not all) women end up snuggling their babes next to a nice, soft tummy reminiscent of the sixth month of pregnancy. And most women (if not all) are anxious to get back to the gym and get back into their pre-baby jeans. 

 

While we understand the urgency to shed those post-baby pounds, we hope that the now famous snapshot of the Duchess will bring some acceptance surrounding the postpartum belly. After all, there are plenty of other reasons why hitting the gym (after four to six weeks of healing) can be beneficial, and even more reasons to bring that baby along with you. 

 

1. Multitasking

Anyone who has ever had a baby quickly realizes there are not enough hours in the day. You may need to learn how to do two, three, even four things at once just to get from point A to point B. Many women decide on a fitness regime only to find out the baby has other plans. Working out with your baby allows you to spend time with your baby while sneaking in a workout. It’s not uncommon to have women in our Baby & Me Fitness classes feeding baby while doing a super set of bicep curls, it may not be pretty, but it works. 

 

2. Resistance

Those babies make excellent weights. Now anywhere and everywhere you go you have eight or more pounds of resistance that just grows heavier as you grow stronger. They are perfect for bicep curls, shoulder presses and squats. Does your baby love the carrier? Try some walking lunges. The stroller is your baby’s ride of choice? Try pushing that thing up a few hills for an excellent cardio workout.

 

3. Build Relationships

Not many parents are prepared for how isolating having a new baby can be, especially if you don’t have many friends or family in town to help out. Postpartum depression in on the rise, especially in large cities. Forming strong relationships with others in your shoes can help with postpartum mood disorders, not to mention the increase in endorphins and reduction of anxiety that naturally come with exercise. Joining a group fitness class designed specifically for new moms gives you a chance to work out and meet some life-long friends. 

 

4. Made For New Moms

Most group fitness classes that allow babies to be involved are designed specifically for the postpartum mother. Fitness teachers are there to help strengthen and tone specific areas like the “mommy tummy” and weak pelvic floor. They also offer modifications and stretches for common postpartum complaints like sore wrists, back and shoulders. 

 

5. Lead By Example

It may seem as though your children never listen, but you can be sure they are always watching. Mimicking is an important part of development, especially during the first few years when children are like sponges soaking everything in. We want our little ones to mimic us making healthy choices so they can embrace a long-term habit of physical activity. As they grow they will want to join in on the fun and you will need to be able to keep up. 

 

Please remember to have realistic expectations when getting back into a workout routine. Celebrities that appear to have a six-pack two weeks after birth often have full time chefs and personal trainers helping them (and Photoshop). The reality for most new moms is grabbing whatever we can to eat after a less than peaceful night of sleep. It’s important to be kind and give yourself adequate time to get back into your pre-baby shape and embrace the mommy tummy for just a little while. 

 

Natasha Marchand is co-owner of bebo mia, a full-service pre- and postnatal boutique, and Baby & Me Fitness, Canada’s oldest mom and tot fitness company. www.bebomia.com.