One integral component of our Performance Training Approach is preparing your body for the very specific demands of pregnancy, childbirth, and early motherhood activities. When it comes to the activities of early motherhood, these can be quite physically demanding. Consider all the squatting, bending over, lifting, carrying, getting up off the ground, pushing/pulling you will have to do. Then, consider you’ll have to do all these things while you are 1) recovering from the trauma of labor, 2) exhausted and severely sleep deprived, and 3) carrying a fragile human. Whether you train for them or not, these demands will be there! So start preparing your body now so you can perform these movements with far greater ease when it counts — which means less injury risk for you, and your baby.
Movements to Master
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. Perform this movement consistently for 45 sec – 1 min, and you’ll definitely feel it!
2. 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. Master the Ground Getup now before you have to perform it carrying precious cargo.
3. 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 places on your core if you do it with poor form (bending at your spine and rounding forward). Master this movement now, and then gradually add load. It can make a world of difference in reducing lower back pain and speeding your core recovery.
4. 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 hinge from your hips — keeping your spine long, and using your glutes to take the stress off your lower back. Practice this unloaded first, then gradually add load to simulate the weight of your baby.
5. Bathtime Kneel
Bathtime requires the same bending forward motion as lifting baby in and out of the crib, but this time you’re forced to hold the position while you simultaneously try to control a slippery little one, who likely wants to do anything but stay still! Practice the Bathtime Kneel to train your body to stay in neutral alignment, and to use your glutes to support your back. This move will also go a long way in speeding your core recovery and reducing lower back pain.
Keeping your body in neutral alignment is critical for reducing strain on your core muscles, and speeding your recovery. Unfortunately, all the one-sided carrying a mom is forced to do everyday (whether it’s the baby, car seat, diaper bag, heavy purse, etc) constantly pulls her body out of neutral. Carries train your body to resist the sideways pull and stay in neutral. Experiment with some of the many different variations of this highly beneficial movement!
7. Overhead Lift
Babies LOVE this movement, and likely their smiles and giggles will make you want to do it over and over….but the pain in your lower back and tired upper body may tell you otherwise. Start by practicing this movement with a lighter load, then gradually increase to simulate the weight of your baby. Be sure you maintain neutral alignment with your rib cage stacked over hip bones (avoiding rib flaring), and always inhale on the descent and exhale as you stand and press. Once you are comfortable, practice it with your baby. You can even incorporate a squat, like the woman in this video, which means a greater workout for you, and more fun for baby!