Let’s take a minute to chat about our post-baby bodies.
I will start by saying the pressure new moms endure to “bounce back” after childbirth is unfair. After growing and birthing actual HUMAN BEINGS, it seems a bit absurd to apply any type of pressure to weight loss or fitting into a particular size. One of my favorite quotes tackling this issue comes from the amazing Kerry Washington, who said, “I’ve been really focused on not being ‘back’ to anything, but being the best version of myself right now. My body is the site of a miracle now. I don’t want to be pre-miracle.” It’s all about acceptance and balance. Try focusing on healthy eating, personal self-care (if that includes exercise, then great) and screw the scale!
With all of this in mind, I want to share some pilates exercises curtesy of my friends at Pilates Mamas. These exercises are perfect for new moms or anyone looking for a strengthening/toning workout (modifications are included to kick it up a notch). For New York City locals, I highly recommend their baby and me classes – I leave feeling the “good” burn! For everyone else, you can do these exercises anywhere!
Before starting this or any fitness regiment, please receive clearance from your doctor and wait at least 4-6 weeks after childbirth to try these exercises. Enjoy!
5 Pilates Exercises for New Moms
- Lying on the mat, keep chest and shoulders wide, neck long.
- Knees bent, feet parallel – but apart. Initiating from your stomach muscles, tilt your pelvis towards the ceiling and then continue the movement by rolling your spine off the mat one vertebrae at a time (you should form a straight line from shoulders to knees).
- Feel the stretch of your hips by picturing your knees growing further apart from each other. Then slowly start rolling your spine back towards the mat, while stretching your spine even longer. Repeat 5-7 times
- Start on your hands and knees. Check that hips are over knees and shoulders are over palms. Body is in a neutral position.
- First let your belly hang, without moving your spine. Take a deep breath and pull your belly in. Pretend your baby is still in your belly and you want to hug the baby in closer. Practice letting go and pulling your belly in a few times. Hold a little longer each time.
- Next, keeping your belly in, challenge yourself by straightening your left leg a few inches behind you. Maintain the position (belly in) and straighten your right arm in front of you. Try to stretch your straightened arm and leg further away from each other, lifting both in the air, holding for 3 counts.
- Bring everything back to the starting position and switch to the other arm/leg. Repeat 5 times per side.
- Lie on your mat and take a moment to stretch your body as long as possible. Keep your chest open and arms long next to your body.
- Bring one leg into a 90 degree angle. Holding your belly in, bring the other leg to 90 degrees. Keeping your knees bent, move your right leg away from you until the toes tap the mat.
- Take a deep exhale, hold in your belly, pull the right leg back up to 90.
- Repeat with your left leg. Once you feel your stomach muscles start to fire up and you can move 1 leg without rocking sideways or arching your back, try moving them simultaneously (don’t worry about toes tapping the mat, just move them about half way down and then pull them back up to 90). Repeat 8-10 times.
- Start by standing against a wall, chest and shoulders should be open and wide. Try to have the back of your head, upper back and tailbone all touching the wall. Make sure you are not arching your back or flaring your ribs out.
- Take a step away from the wall (feet together), while keeping your upper body on the wall.
- Slowly, slide down the wall until your knees are at 90 degrees over the ankles. Work on pulling your knees together as much as you can. Count to 5.
- Next, push your feet down to the floor, squeeze your butt and slide yourself back to a standing position. Repeat 5 times. For a challenge, hold for 10.
- (Bonus stretch) At the end of this exercise, bring your feet back to the wall, so your entire body is against the wall. Reach your arms out to make a big V shape (try to keep as much as your body as you can against the wall). Then bend your elbows to a goal post. Repeat 5 times.
Standing Push Ups
- Stand facing the wall, about an arms length away. Feet should be together.
- Place your hands on the wall, in front of the shoulders. Keeping body in one long line from head to toes (shoulders wide and your belly pulled in), slowly bend elbows towards your ribs and your chest towards the wall. You should feel your triceps and abdominals doing the work (if you do not feel your triceps working, pull your elbows closer to your ribs. Imagine squeezing your wallet under your armpits).
- For a better challenge, step further away from the wall. Repeat 8-10 times.