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Making It Work

Time for Exercise

From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 16 No. 5 September-October 1999 pp. 183-85

We provide articles from our publications from previous years for reference for our Leaders and members. Readers are cautioned to remember that research and medical information change over time.

"Making It Work" is a regular feature of the magazine NEW BEGINNINGS, published bimonthly by La Leche League International. In this column, suggestions are offered by readers of NEW BEGINNINGS to help mothers who wish to combine breastfeeding and working. Various points of view are presented. Not all of the information may be pertinent to your family's lifestyle. This information is general in nature, and not intended to be advice, medical or otherwise.

Situation

Like many new moms I'd like to lose some weight and firm up my body. However, I am having trouble finding time to fit regular exercise into my schedule. After being away from my baby all day we both need lots of nursing and reconnecting once I get home. I don't want to leave her again to go to an exercise class or a gym! How do other working mothers find the time to get back in shape?

Response

I am a new mom and had the same frustration with fitting in my exercise while spending lots of time nursing. Before I was pregnant, I did step aerobics and walking. Now that I have a baby, I use my baby sling when I exercise, and it has absolutely saved my sanity. Try getting an aerobics videotape, put your baby in the sling, stabilize him with your hands so he doesn't bounce around, and then do the workout with your legs only. It is a great leg workout when you have the extra weight in front of you! It forces you to really concentrate on controlled movements since you don't want the baby to be bouncing too much. My baby loves it and actually falls asleep while I do my aerobics! You can do the same thing walking too. When I do stomach "crunches," I sit my baby up on my stomach. Each time I crunch, I hold it while I count to ten. He thinks this is very funny, and it's the most fun I have ever had doing abdominal work!

Joanne Spillar
McHenry IL USA

Response

I found that walking was the best and easiest type of exercise to do with a baby. I discovered a great park nearby and made a point of walking for at least 20 minutes a day four to five times a week. If you want to lose more weight, all you do is increase the time and speed of your walk. It is a great way to get out and get moving. I find it easier to stop and nurse during my walk than it would be during a class or while using home exercise equipment. If the weather is not favorable in your area, go to a local mall. Many malls have walking clubs and welcome moms with strollers. Either way you get out of the house and do more than just sweat.

Jennifer Bennett-Baughman
Woodstock GA USA

Response

Finding time for exercise can be a big challenge for many mothers! One thing that can be helpful is to exercise at home. Walking can be done from home, as well as exercise tapes. Exercise equipment at home can help you get some workout time without having to spend time going to the gym. Some types of exercise equipment require only 15 to 20 minutes every other day for you to get a general workout. Scheduling exercise time is helpful too. I find that making sure I work out every other day has helped me to maintain a regular exercise routine. This is not too much of a demand on my family time but is enough to help me to feel and look better. Family exercise can be really nice too. There is a lot of equipment available to take little ones biking or hiking with you. Family exercise can be beneficial for everyone and a fun activity too.

Katy Diltz
Coggon IA USA

Response

When I want to work out, I do different activities with my baby. For leg lifts, I put him on my shins and lift him up and down. He loves it and doesn't want me to quit. When we do sit-ups, we call them peek-a-boo-ups. Sometimes you just have to be creative. It may not be the hardest workout in the world, but any workout is better than none.

Gina Buzzell
Ogden IA USA

Response

There are many ways to incorporate a baby into your workout. One of my favorites is to lie on my back with my knees bent and sit my baby on my stomach. If he can't sit unassisted, I lean him back against my legs. Then I lift my behind, keeping my feet and upper body on the floor and my pelvis tilted to protect my lower back. I lower to the floor again and repeat as many times as I can. The baby adds extra weight for me, and he also gets a fun ride. All of my children loved this. While carrying your baby in a sling or front carrier, you can also do many types of exercise such as walking, squats, and lunges. Even simple steps like moving side to side can get your heart rate up. Try to come up with something you enjoy in which you can safely add your baby as extra resistance. Be creative and have fun! Also, remember to watch what you eat. Most people watch the fat they eat when trying to lose weight but don't concern themselves with their sugar intake. I have the most success with weight loss when I eat little or no sugar. Limiting the sugar I eat also gives me lots of energy and makes me feel great. Your child will benefit from your good example and grow up knowing how important it is to take good care of your body. I wish you great health and happiness!

Grace Martens
Jeffersonville IN USA

Response

How sensitive you are to recognize your baby's need to reconnect with you. Finding time to exercise has been challenging for me. As the mother of a three-year-old and ten-month-old twins, I've found it a necessity to make the most of my time. I've found I can even do leg lifts and stretches while nursing lying down. You might be amazed at how many leg exercises you can do while nursing. After nursing, I bring my knees into my chest and place the baby on top of them. This gives me time to play as well as work on my tummy. When doing laundry, I stand in front of the dryer, squat to get a piece of laundry out, then stand and fold it. I keep repeating until all the laundry is folded. For aerobic activity we dance in the morning to the music of Mozart. The weekends are great for long walks pushing the stroller. Nursing in the rocking chair is a great time to work on the gluteal muscles by flexing, holding, and relaxing. You can also do this while driving.

Exercise to me before children meant hours working out in the gym. Now I work out with my children. By changing my concept of what I thought exercise had to be, I've quit trying to fit in an unrealistic expectation for myself.

Melissa McMahan
Madeira Beach FL USA

Response

It really depends on you and your child's personality, but I have found several ways to exercise. I grab every opportunity I can when it presents itself. When I have a baby who sleeps in the morning, I will get up early and take a walk. I look for hills to walk up, which makes me feel as though I'm running but without the impact. The one form of exercise that I've found to be the most fun is dancing while holding a baby. We turn on some great music and just get silly dancing. This is certain to raise your heart rate and get lots of smiles.

Kelly Magner
Rancho Palos Verdes CA USA

Response

A few months after my daughter was born I discovered by accident what kind of exercise worked for me. I was blessed with a baby who always wanted to be held. She didn 't like the sling or front carrier, but she loved the backpack-style carrier. I soon discovered I was losing weight, because even doing little things around the house became a workout with an extra 15-20 pounds on my back! I also took regular walks with her on my back and didn 't use a stroller when shopping. Not only did I lose all the pregnancy weight but the ten pounds I had gained afterwards.

Margaret Pezzella
Lincolnshire IL USA

Response

Spring, summer, and fall are ideal for taking walks with a stroller, sling, or backpack. In the summer it stays light so late in the evenings that you may be able to get home from work, nurse and unwind, and go for a walk before dark when it begins to cool down. This is also a good way to spend time with your husband if he's able to come along. Our baby really enjoys the fresh air, and I benefit from the exercise.

Ardie Keck
Louisville KY USA

Response

You can do many things while you are just sitting! Whenever you sit down, contract your abdominal and gluteal muscles. Tighten them as long as you can, then release them slowly. You will see results! Try approaching it differently. Think of exercise as something you have to do to live. Try walking with your baby in a sling for 30 minutes after work. He will be able to nurse and reconnect with you while you get exercise!

Heidi Bowman
Athens TN USA

Response

I went back to work when my child was eight weeks old. He is now almost seven months old. I really had a hard time at first finding time to exercise. I put my son in his stroller, and we go walking. I work odd hours, so sometimes we walk in the mornings and sometimes we walk in the evenings. He loves looking at all of the things going on around him. I also take the stairs when I am at work. I have not dieted at all. Between nursing my son and walking, I have lost about 35 pounds. This is more than I gained while pregnant. Be patient, and remember to eat well. Good luck!

Susan Evans
Florence MS USA

Last updated Thursday, October 19, 2006 by njb.
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