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Are you thinking about attending your first mom + baby yoga, Pilates, or other fitness class with your newborn? Maybe your baby is 6 months old and you are ready to try a class- just the two of you!

More and more gyms, yoga studios and birth centers are offering some type of movement class where you are welcome to bring your new baby, take time for yourself and get out of the house. This is a wonderful thing! Studies show that daily exercise can help combat postpartum depression and improve sleep. At  Studio Mamalates we get concerned moms wondering: How does it work? What if they cry? What should I bring? Maybe you are starting a new type of fitness that you never tried before at a new facility and feel a little intimidated. It can be overwhelming!

I've put together a list covering common questions that I've received in the past 10 years of teaching classes andadded some helpful tips to help you navigate, prepare and encourage you to get out with your little one and MOVE!

1) When to start classes:

It's recommended by the ACOG to not to start exercise classes until 6 weeks postpartum.  But, that doesn't mean you can't STRETCH, get on a foam roller or have your abdominal's check for separation, and start to reintroduce yourself to your abdominals sooner. Find out how vigorous the class is and check with your doctor, you may be able to start at 3 weeks or earlier. There also may be a  birth recovery workshop or option for a private session that you can bring your baby to before you start the weekly classes. 

 2) Let the instructor know if you have special issues:

When you do begin, take a few minutes to check in with the teacher. Are you recovering from a  cesarean or an episiotomy? Do you  have specific pelvic floor or diastasis recti issues? Inform the instructor-she may have some special exercises or handouts especially for you.

 3) Breathe:

Your baby will cry during class and will probably need a diaper change or feeding. That is O.K!

The race to get to class, new smells, mama hormones, a little anxiety… these are all normal feelings when attending some of your first classes. Relax, know that you will get your system down, and as you do it will become easier and more familiar (for both of you.)

4) Bring whatever you need:

Ask if mats are available and if there is a charge. You may have brought your own mat to prenatal yoga but now that you have a baby, a diaper bag, and a car seat, you may be able to lighten your load by keeping your mat at home. Feel free to bring a boppy or bouncy seat-especially if your baby has reflux and prefers to be upright. 

5) Exercising with baby:

The mamalates method is designed with the mama's needs in mind. While we plan for about 30% of the class to be structured for direct  interaction with baby, the class really is for YOU. Find out a little more about the class format, and whether it feels comfortable to you. Even if you are not holding your baby or making constant eye contact throughout the entire class, your baby is watching you move, listening to your breath- maybe getting gently bounced on a ball by the instructor. All of these experiences have benefits  to your baby. Some  women may  choose to leave baby at home so they can really focus on the moves-ask if that is ok.

6) No Judgment!

Bottle feeding or breastfeeding? Cloth, disposable or gDiapers? Home birth, hospital birth or birth center, we all have our own style and reasons. The class should be about replenishing, exerting, and filling up and everyone should feel comfortable with their choices and welcome other's.

7) Instructor:

Does the instructor specialize in pre/post fitness? How long has she been teaching and does she have personal experience with birth recovery? Take a few minutes to find out- maybe visit her FB page to get a feel and it will ensure a better fit!

8) Toys/ mirrors/ stimulate:

Are there mirrors on the wall? A fan on the ceiling? Spiky balls to hold?  If so, snag the spot where your baby can appreciate these stimulating options and distractions- especially if they are a little older.

9) Swaddle:

Do not underestimate the power of the swaddle. You may not swaddle at home and are able to hold your baby all day. But, at an exercise class, wrap that baby tight, put the baby down while still making her feel cozy with the pressure of mamas arms and you will be able to sneak in a little more movement. You can learn more about different swaddle techniques at 7 Swaddles Sleep Solution and it may be just what they need to calm in a class with other babies and noises.

10) Resources:

Getting to an exercise class is only a part of getting a workout in with baby. Take this opportunity to meet new moms, gather resources on local support groups like Baby Blues Connection, or body workers that may be able to help you navigate tongue tie, latch issues, or reflux. Go for tea or lunch after class with other moms- you may need to be the one to initiate it but you'd be pleasantly surprised at how many mama's appreciate the camaraderie of other women while caring for a little one.

Wendy Foster specializes in pre/ post fitness and is the  owner of the mamalates method for birth recovery.

She has been teaching mom + baby classes for over 10 years in Portland,OR.

Published in Baby's First Year
Sunday, 17 November 2013 04:53

Elimination Communication

For decades there has been an on-going debate among parents about "diapering" babies. Some try to be environmentally friendly by using cloth diapers while others enjoy the ease and convenience of using disposables. There is also a third segment that keep their babies clean and dry without using diapers at all; these parents tune in to their babies' elimination signals and hold their infants over a receptacle where their babies deposit their waste. The idea of infants using toilets may seem unusual to many people, but this practice is not new and is fairly common in Asia, Africa and some parts of South America.
Similar to the way parents know when their babies are hungry, sleepy, gassy, or scared parents can learn when their babies are signalling their need to eliminate. Infants will often pause while nursing, squirm, or become fussy for no apparent reason to signal their need to relieve themselves. When the baby signals, the parent holds the baby over the toilet, sink, or potty and cues the baby to eliminate. It is not unusual for a baby to be labelled colicky when he is actually being persistent about his desire to avoid soiling himself.
Parents can also use common timing patterns. For example, babies often eliminate upon waking from a nap, shortly after nursing, and when their diapers are removed. If a parent doesn't notice her baby making any obvious signals to eliminate, she may begin by holding her baby over the sink or toilet during these common times that most babies need to go. With practice, parents develop an intuition or a feeling that their babies need to eliminate. Sometimes parents even sense a "phantom pee" moments before the baby actually urinates. A parent may feel a sudden warmth, as if the baby has urinated on her arm or lap right before it actually occurs. Parents can learn to hold their infants over a toilet in time to make the catch.
Elimination Communication (EC) can be initiated any time from birth up to 18 months. It requires patience, commitment, and effort just like many other attachment parenting styles. EC is a parenting choice that strengthens the bond between parent and child, promoting a deeper connection between parents and their babies through enhanced communication. 
For more information and support visit Diaper Free Baby.
Published in Child Health

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