Being a new mom is wonderful and exciting. Suddenly you're responsible for a little person who relies on you for absolutely everything.
For all its joys, motherhood is also exhausting. New babies are precious and sweet little bundles of love, but they require constant attention. And you've still got yourself to take care of.
Your body obviously changes after you've given birth, and, as any new mom will tell you, you're bound to lose some of the strength you had pre-pregnancy. It makes sense. It's not like you were hitting up your favorite boot camp class on the reg while pregnant. The same is true post-baby: According to Kaiser Permanente, most experts advise against starting a regular exercise routine until four to six weeks after giving birth. (It can be longer for cesarian births.)
But we're here to help you get your groove back. Once your doctor gives you the go-ahead to work out again, try starting with these five exercises that can help new moms get strong, fast.
1. Downward dog to upward-facing dog
These two yoga moves might seem easy enough in theory, but they will definitely help you get stronger. And now that you're constantly carrying around your little angel, a little extra muscle will go a long way.
Starting at the back of your mat, bend down and walk your hands forward until your arms are straight and shoulder-width apart. You'll know you're in downward dog if your body looks like an upside-down "V."
Now move into upward-facing dog by bending your arms and pushing yourself forward like you're performing a pushup. Glide through the movement until your back is arched and your arms are snug by your sides. Reverse the motion and repeat the exercise a few times.
And always remember to go at your own pace — it's baby steps, here!
2. Butterfly kicks
When performed correctly, butterfly kicks can help you strengthen your core and abdominal muscles.
Lie on your back with your feet in front of you. With your lower back glued to the ground, raise both legs a few inches off the floor and kick your feet. Repeat for a few reps and rest.
3. Walk, walk, walk!
Babies need a lot of sleep, which means your little guy or gal will (hopefully) be napping quite a bit.
Use these quiet moments to get some fresh air. Simply strap your baby into a stroller and hit the open road (er, sidewalk). Babies are soothed by motion, so it's actually a great way to lull your newborn into a peaceful slumber, especially if he or she is having trouble sleeping.
4. Heel drops
This classic Pilates move is a nice alternative to more intense exercises like bicycle kicks or planks, which can strain your abdominals. (Don't worry, mama, you'll be back to those hard workouts in just a few months!)
Start on your back with your knees above your hips and your legs parallel to the floor. Engage your core and stretch out your legs until they're fully extended; then slowly (!) reverse the movement. Perform a few reps and rest.
5. Glute kickbacks
To reclaim that pre-baby booty, look no farther than the glute kickback.
Glute kickbacks — or donkey kicks — can help tighten your rear without damaging your muscles. But always remember: The key to post-baby strength is taking it slow.
Roll out your yoga mat and start out on your hands and knees. With your hips in line and your abdominal muscles engaged, lift your heel toward the ceiling so you feel a nice stretch in your quadricep. Slowly reverse the movement and repeat with your opposite heel.
Perform a few reps on each side and rest.
Please consult your doctor/healthcare practitioner before performing any of these exercises.