New mothers face a lot of challenges when caring for their newborns. One of those challenges is caring for themselves. The Early Show Special Correspondent Laila Ali just gave birth to a beautiful baby boy so she knows what we're talking about.
Ali, a professional athlete all her life, says she really needed to get back in shape after her son, Curtis, was born in late August. But how does a mother find the time and the energy? Ali found out that being fit is good for both the mom and her baby.
She can "talk the talk," especially when encouraging and empowering young people to get in shape. But after her son was born, Ali said she had to find out if she could "walk the walk." Or more accurately, "crunch the crunch." Her goal was to lose 35 pounds of "baby" fat.
"It takes time," warns fitness trainer Dion Slider. "Like I explained to [Laila], we all want instant gratification. But I tell her, 'Look, you have to take your time, you have to be consistent with your diet, and be consistent with your exercise, and it'll come off, you know?'"
Before having a baby, Ali says exercises were a lot easier for her.
"But now that I've had a child, it takes 10 times more effort and discipline to make sure that I get out here and make sure that I do it. But I know that I want to get my body back in shape, so I'm gonna do what I have to do," she says.
What also makes training more fun is using items from around the house. You can step up on a water cooler or swing your leg over a chair. Ali says she also catches up on her DVD's while cycling or opts for a run down the street, giving her dogs a workout, too.
"Just take your time with it," Slider advises. "Start out easy, with cardio. Just start walking [and] getting your heart rate up."
Sometimes it takes a group effort.
Some mothers hit the mall for Baby Boot Camp, where babies come along to the exercise class, solving the problem of finding time to work out.
It's also chance to get out and make new friends.
Baby Boot Camp involves all kinds of exercise, says Ali. Even the babies get involved -- doubling as free weight for a little extra resistance or leading the way in a mall version of "stroller derby."
"Some of us run the mall the whole time, and others are walking," says one baby Boot Camp participant. "And it's whatever you want to do, your own fitness level. But by being here with other moms, they help push it."
Working out and interaction helps with post-partum depression, too.
"Not only that, there are other moms here," says another participant. "I hang out with them at the park now, I've made friends … We give so much of our time and energy to our babies and to our families that we forget about ourselves."
All it takes is a quick Internet search to find a "Mommy and Me" exercise class near you.
Before starting an exercise regime, check with your doctor. Here are some other exercise safety tips to keep n mind:
- Invest in a good support bra. Your breasts are going to be larger than normal from the milk production and will need a lot of extra support.
- Be careful of high-impact sports due to lax pelvic ligaments and joints left over from pregnancy. This is why core (abdominal work is key after pregnancy preventing lower back and joint injuries).
- Make sure you drink lots of water to replenish yourself, especially when breastfeeding.
- Listen to your body. If you're feeling tired, go easy on yourself. Try not to push yourself until you feel ready.
- If you start to feel light headed and nauseous, or notice a change in the color of your vaginal discharge, consult with your doctor. You may be exercising too strenuously.
And remember, losing baby weight takes time. Since her son was born in August, Ali has lost 15 pounds. She says she has 20 more to go.