When it comes to prenatal & postpartum training, often we forget about preparing for the (physically demanding) tasks of new parenthood. Consider all the squatting, bending over, lifting, getting up and down from the ground, pushing, pulling, and carrying (and carrying, and carrying…) new parents do. Then, consider you’ll have to do all these things while you are exhausted and recovering from labor (then later with a 25 – 30 lb toddler).
The way you perform your everyday activities can dramatically impact your recovery speed, and quality of life.
That’s why it is important to begin training for the “ADLs” (Activities of Daily Living) of early parenthood. Engraining proper movement mechanics in ADLs allows you to perform your daily activities with maximum efficiency and minimal stress to your body, which significantly expedites your recovery.
The best time to begin this work is during pregnancy. However, it’s certainly not too late to start postpartum. See below for some great ADLs to begin practicing.
Movements to Master (Parenthood “ADLs”)
1. Chair Getup
You get up and down from a chair several times a day, but it gets much more challenging when you have to do it while holding a baby, or carrying an extra 25 – 35 lbs (or more) of body weight from pregnancy. The Chair Getup helps you train your body to perform this movement with greater ease, and it’s also a beneficial way to work on proper squat form. To increase the challenge, add load. You can also do this quickly (without load) to make it more of a cardio movement.
2. Ground Pickup
This is a critical one because of the number of times per day you’re faced with needing to bend down to pick something (or someone) up, and the strain this movement can place on your core if you do it with suboptimal mechanics. Master this movement with a lighter load first, then increase the challenge with a heavier load.
3. Crib Reach
Anyone who has lifted a baby (or toddler!) in and out of a crib can likely relate to the strain it places on your lower back. Similar to the Ground Pickup, the Crib Reach teaches you how to bend over by reaching your hips back (instead of reaching your arms forward) to take stress off your low back. Practice this unloaded first, then gradually add load to simulate the weight of your baby.
4. Bath time Kneel
Bath time requires the same bending forward motion as lifting baby in and out of the crib, but typically you are kneeling on the ground. You also have the added challenge of needing to control a slippery little one. The Bath time Kneel helps you practice staying in neutral alignment during this activity to protect your core. You can also vary this one by performing in a half-kneeling position.
5. Ground Getup
You’re on the ground with your baby — playing, changing a diaper, etc — and now you (and baby) have to get up off the ground. Getting up off the ground without using your hands is challenging enough, let alone trying to do this while holding your little (or not-so-little) one. Once you master the move, hold a weight to begin preparing for the real thing.
This is an important one. As a new parent, you’ll be doing A LOT of carrying, especially single-sided carrying. Holding a heavy load on one side can pull your body out of neutral alignment, which places more strain on your core. Practicing single-sided carries, like below, strengthens your deep core muscles to help you resist being pulled out of neutral. You can also perform these carries racked or overhead.
7. Baby Lifts
Babies love being lifted overhead (and they seem to enjoy it more and more the heavier they get). The Baby Lift helps you strengthen your upper body for real-life lifting (of babies, heavy objects, etc.). Note that this movement is different from a standard overhead press because you are lifting at and angle (vs. directly overhead), which is more representative of how we lift things in real life.
Want More Ideas (and Full Workouts)?
For more ADL-based exercises, and full workouts, explore our prenatal and postpartum training programs. These programs take you through a comprehensive training program, customized to your stage, and also include tons of additional resources, such as nutrition guidance, childbirth education, and tips and education tailored to your stage.
Or, for a more personalized approach, consider working with a PROnatal Personal Trainer.
Interested in Coaching Pre & Postnatal Clients?
Explore our Pre/Postnatal Professional Education. We offer a Specialist Course for trainers & coaches looking to specialize in this population and a Mini Course for group fitness instructors who just need the basics. We also offer simple training guides to get you started.