with author Guest Contributor
5 effective mom/baby pilates moves
You don't need childcare or fancy equipment and clothes to get your body back after baby. Allison Harter's got five simple moves you can do using your little one as resistance.
Single leg circles Lay face up on your back, knees bent with feet hip distance apart and flat on floor. Have baby seated on top of you, straddling your pelvis, facing you. Point one leg straight up towards the ceiling. Using that leg, draw an arc from the ceiling down to the floor and then sweep that same leg out to the side and back up, returning to point straight up towards the ceiling.
(Keeping baby seated on the pelvis will help to prevent the opposite hip from rocking or coming up while making circles. Make funny faces for baby to keep him/her entertained while doing the single leg
circles. Perform 20 circles/leg, 10 in each direction. NOTE: If hips do rock, of if you have any discomfort, make circles smaller.
Modified face-up plank Seated on the floor facing baby, hold baby between your knees, holding him/her in an assisted standing position. Do this by positioning your knees beneath baby's armpits (Make sure baby is tall enough for feet to touch the floor, or bring the floor to her by placing a stable block or book beneath her feet.) Simply hold baby there while you perform this exercise. With feet hip distance apart and firmly planted on the floor, place your hands flush with floor, wrists in line with shoulders, arms straight at sides, fingertips facing forward towards your feet. Now push off your upper body in conjunction with you glutes and hamstrings to lift your rear end off the floor, pushing your chest and pelvis towards the ceiling. In this modified face-up plank position, with the hips off the floor, your wrists should still be in line with your shoulders and your knees should line up with yours ankles. Keep your gaze fixed on an imaginary horizon line straight in front of you.
(Try slowly lifting and lowering into this position ten times. To increase your level of challenge, lift once more and try holding the position static for 30 seconds. Again, make funny faces and/or noises to entertain baby. NOTE: If your wrists are prone to injury, do this exercise with closed fists, knuckles down on the floor, keeping the wrists straight so no added stress is placed on them.)
Rolling like a ball Seated on the floor, bring bent knees pulled in tight towards your chest. Hold baby with your hands beneath his/her armpits, having baby face you, leaning against your shins. With your knees now in towards your chest and holding baby firmly against your shins, tilt your pelvis backwards and lean back, taking baby with you, your feet will leave the floor and you'll roll onto your back. Baby will end up floating above you, looking down at you, resting on your shins. Keeping baby firmly against your shins, start to lower your legs a little, just enough for baby's added weight to create a little assisted momentum, thereby allowing you to roll back up to a seated position. Repeat ten times.
(This is primarily an abdominal exercise but can also provide a subtle back massage. NOTE: Those with herniated disc injuries should avoid this exercise.
Roll-up Seated with your knees bent, feet hip distance apart on the floor, place hands underneath baby's armpits and hold him/her straight out in front of you, facing you. Depending on baby's weight, keep his/her feet and/or knees in contact with the floor. Holding baby upright, slowly begin to drag baby back with you as you tilt you pelvis backwards and slowly, one vertebrae at a time, begin to curl down backwards, coming to rest with your back flat on the floor. Baby will most likely come to rest with her belly on your pelvis. To curl back up, begin by bringing your chin towards your chest, curling up the head neck and shoulders, and then lift the baby off you slightly and let her weight counterbalance you, as an assist, while you curl, slowly, back up to your starting seated position. (This exercise not only helps tone your abs, but can also provide some good traction for the spine. NOTE: In the event of a disc herniation, pillow yourself up so you only curl down to a roughly 45% angle. Repeat 10x)
Bridge Laying face up on your back, knees bent, feet flat on floor, feet hip distance apart. Place baby seated on top of your hips, facing you, use your hands to hold baby securely on either side of his/ her waist. Engage the glutes and hamstrings by pressing your heels into the floor, and hinging from the hips, lift your rear end off the floor pressing your hips, with the baby seated on top of them, up towards the ceiling. Hold for a count of 10 and then, slowly, one vertebrae at a time, drop down between the shoulder blades and begin to curl the spine back down, dropping down to rest on the floor, one vertebrae at a time. (Make funny noises while lifting baby up and down, they will think they are enjoying a kind of amusement/ pony ride. NOTE: In the presence of a disc herniation, hinge the hips up AND down only, keep a straight spine. Repeat 10x)
IMPORTANT NOTES: These exercises are designed to be performed with babies who can support the weight of their own head. Each baby's needs are different, gauge your baby's responsiveness to this program by demeanor and temperament. In the event of a c-section, women are advised to wait at least six weeks before beginning an exercise program, unless advised to do otherwise by their doctor. When in doubt, consult with your physician prior to starting a new exercise program.
Allison Harter is a Pilates instructor and owner of Pilates Metro, in Los Angeles, California.