During the first few months after giving birth, I had a lot of anxiety. I hadn’t been prepared (who is) for the reality of having a tiny infant that couldn’t hold her head up and that relied so completely on me.
With most of our family living out of town, I didn’t have much of a support network and sometimes I felt like I was going crazy (if only I had read Anne Lamott’s Operating Instructions before birth, and new moms, please reach out to me if you’re going through something similar). Getting out of the house with my baby was key. In fact, the one thing that I credit for keeping me somewhat sane: exercise and to be more exact, exercise with other new parents.
As soon as I got the okay from my doctor, my daughter and I were out the door three mornings a week to a local “Baby Boot Camp” class. At the hour workout session, my fellow moms and I ran hills, jump squatted and did pushups while also sharing experiences and advice on topics ranging from sleep schedules to solid food transitions. At the same time, we also joked about the anxieties and fears we were all feeling and I realized my nervousness was completely normal.
That’s why today’s hint is that new moms (and dads) consider what I found to be the best postpartum workout to get your body back in shape after having a baby — the mix of group exercise and group therapy you get by going to programs geared to new parents. If you’re a hardcore exerciser, there’s Baby Boot Camp (Dads get the class free on Saturdays at my local class in San Francisco), Stroller Strides, Strollercise and baby-friendly spinning classes.
And for those who prefer other styles of exercise, you can find similar variations focused on yoga and Pilates, too name a few (if you live in San Francisco, try to attend Baby Boot Camp as well as a Jane Austin mom & baby yoga class, where I found an environment similar to that of boot camp, though with deep breathing rather than burpees).
To be sure, not everyone wants to spend money on an exercise class. If you fall into that category, you could gather a group of new parents together yourself for a weekend workout, whether a hike or a stroller- or baby-friendly strength training routine (like one on parenting.com or one Fit Pregnancy recently featured).
I, however, prefer the class method. And a big advantage of these types of baby-friendly classes over ones where you put your baby in another room with a babysitter while you do a class: Your child is not going to be kicked out by the babysitter if he or she cries for more than five minutes (this happened to my daughter recently at a local gym and I was forced to leave the spin class).
At Baby Boot Camp like classes, not only does teacher serves as a babysitter of sorts who can rock a crying baby while a mom does bicep curls, but the classes are also a great way to meet other new parents in the neighborhood. In fact, I rely on my Baby Boot Camp therapy so much that I’m still attending a year after my daughter’s birth and plan to continue through any future pregnancy.
What did you find to be the best postpartum workout?