I LOVE babies. Holding them, rocking them, cuddling them, patting them on the bum to calm them down, knitting cute little newborn hats for them, handing them back to their mamas when they cry…
While my own personal baby snuggling days are over (at 45, with 3 school aged children, I can’t imagine going back to diapers and night feeds…), I still occasionally, have the privilege of making goo goo faces at the babies in the postnatal exercise classes taught at my gym.
Back when my kids were babies, the only group fitness classes available to me were ‘moms only’. That meant that I dropped them off at childminding and spent most of the hour praying that the caregiver wouldn’t come and drag me out of class to breastfeed, change a poopy diaper or comfort an hysterical child.
And because these classes were not specific to new mothers, none of the pelvic floor exercises that I desperately needed to do were included in the workout.
The postnatal exercise classes that we now teach encourage moms to bring their babies to class. Pre-crawling infants (once they can crawl, safety becomes an issue) can lay or sit on padded mats only a few feet from where mom is exercising. Moms can interrupt their workouts to breastfeed and tend to babies’ needs. Some days go better than others and I’ve only ever taught one class where every single little one was wailing at the 45 minute mark (I blame it on my choice of music!).
And the choice of exercises is specific to those new moms need to be doing; upper and lower back work, core and pelvic floor strengthening, cardio intervals to help shed weight.
Benefits of postnatal exercise classes for moms?
- a faster return to their pre-prenancy bodies (somehow, it’s never fast enough…)
- pelvic floor training exercises (neglect these at your peril)
- peace of mind at having baby in sight (first time moms are often anxious about using a gym’s childcare facilities and many cite childcare as a reason for not exercising during the first year post pregnancy)
- more energy (always appreciated after a restless night)
- stronger bodies (those muscles will be needed as baby grows and carrying infant seat to and from the car becomes a workout in and of itself!)
- friendship, community and a sense of belonging (many of the moms in this class meet for coffee and baby play dates during the week)
Benefits of postnatal exercise classes for babes?
- tummy time (babies need to spend time on their tummies to help strengthen the muscles necessary for crawling and walking)
- learn to be independent from mama (she’s still visible, but not able to hold baby while exercising)
- lots of visual and auditory stimulation (babies like to see new faces and bright colours; they love to listen to upbeat music; plus, all that stimulation tires them out!)
- early exposure to exercise as a regular part of the day (monkey see, monkey do!)
Haven’t had your baby yet? Head on over to Fit Views where I’m talking about exercising during pregnancy. Then come back and re-read this post once you’ve welcomed your miracle to the world!
Moms, when did you return to exercise after pregnancy?
Would you have started working out sooner if a prenatal exercise class that included your baby was available?
Disclaimer: Before beginning any postnatal exercise program, please make sure your health care practitioner approves!