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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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