Taking care of YOU is good for everyone
Improving your personal fitness can supply the energy and well being you especially need right now. If you take great care of yourself, you will be able to take great care of your baby.
Your workout doesn't have to happen while baby is sleeping. Exercising with your baby can be a fun time for both of you. There are significant benefits for baby too. They want nothing more than to be with you! You have the perfect opportunity to teach your baby lifelong exercise habits, by setting an example that fitness is important and can be fun.
Now is the time to help your baby form the foundation of a lifetime of health and fitness. Part of making this happen is incorporating age appropriate games and stimulation for all of baby's senses while you exercise. This will stimulate your baby's mental, physical and emotional growth while you save time and get fit.
Here are the ABCs of new mother health:
There are two very basic nutritional changes you can start making today that will really make a difference. First -- make drinking water a priority. Being hydrated, keeps your metabolism up to burn more calories throughout the day. Getting enough water also helps you lose weight, helps you fight off hunger pains and accelerates your healing process from pregnancy, labor and delivery.
Add a glass or two of water before and with every meal. Shoot for eight 8 ounce glasses a day. Second -- try to finish eating by 7:30 pm and make those your last bites for the day. Your body naturally slows its metabolism down at night. Adding calories when your metabolism is low means those calories are more likely to be stored as fat.
New moms need to focus on helping their bodies to recover after pregnancy. You need increased energy and strength to keep up with all the demands of a growing baby. Here are a few tips to fit exercise into even the busiest of schedules!
Stroller Posture Walk: Starting your day with a brisk stroller walk is a wonderful way to get some fresh air, spend time with your baby and jump-start your metabolism for the day. Try to head out as soon as you can get baby changed, fed and ready to go. Establish proper posture by standing tall (pull your navel in toward your spine) with your shoulders back and head straight over your body. Start off slow for five minutes to warm up. Pick up the pace for 15 to 30 minutes -- walk tall and briskly, making sure that your feet touch the ground with the heel first, rolling forward to your toe. Talk to your baby about their beautiful new world -- your exercise intensity should be such that you can talk comfortably but not sing. If you're too out of breath to sing, slow down. Cool down with a slow walk for five minutes. Keep your abdominal muscles especially contracted as you cool down.
Crunch Diaper Change: This is a great way to flatten your stomach. Change baby's diaper and then get down on the floor with your baby for 30 to 50 abdominal crunches. (1) Lie on the ground with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Place your hands lightly behind your head while keeping your elbows back and out of sight. Pretend to have an apple under your chin to maintain proper alignment. (2) Curl up half way to your knees, keeping your low back on the floor. Exhaling, contract your navel to your spine. (3) Pause then lower slowly as you inhale. Keep your navel pressed into your spine the entire time.
Try laying your baby on your belly as you do this exercise or prop your baby up with their back to your knees, supporting them with your hands. Give your baby a kiss each time you roll up. Say a letter of the alphabet each time you crunch up and you'll have 26 crunches and your ABC's done in no time!
You can substitute this basic isometric contraction if you are experiencing any discomfort with basic crunches after an uncomplicated vaginal delivery. Lie in the start position for a basic crunch (arms may be resting on abs or crossed over chest) and tighten your abdominal muscles by (1) Inhaling and relaxing the abdomen then (2) Exhaling and tightening a few inches below the surface, pulling the abdomen toward the back of the waist.
Red Light Kegeling: Kegeling is extremely important exercise for all women, but especially effective after childbirth. Kegels will reduce your risk of incontinence and increase the strength and endurance of your pelvic floor muscles which have been severely weakened by pregnancy. Try to link a specific activity with performing the exercise to make it a part of your every day routine -- in this case, every time you are in a car stopped at a red light!
To perform a kegel: (1) Imagine that rather abruptly you are experiencing a strong need to either pass gas or have a bowel movement but you have to wait in line for the rest room! Hold tight the muscles in your pelvic diaphragm. (2) Now imagine that you have to urinate. Hold tight the muscles of the vaginal area. (3) Hold tight both these muscle groups (stool and urine) for two to 10 seconds then relax. Do not tighten the muscles of the buttocks, hips or thighs. (4) Repeat 10 times in a row (rectal then vaginal) to perform a set. Perform three sets a day, especially during the first six weeks postpartum.
During pregnancy, the weight of your baby in front of you can cause your center of gravity to shift and your shoulders to slump forward. After delivery, the demands of carrying, feeding and bending forward all day can compound your posture problem.
Reverse Shoulder Rolls: Stretching to release tightness in your chest, shoulders, neck and upper back will improve your posture. Slowly rotate your shoulders in a soft circular motion downward and backward, releasing the tension as you exhale your breath. Repeat 10 times. Focus on keeping your shoulders relaxed throughout the day. Sing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" with your baby as you do these, move your baby's arms in a gentle circular motion as if rowing along with you.
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