The Challenge: Getting in shape again. "I lost the weight after Aidan was born, but I don't feel as fit as I did before kids," says pregnant mom Colleen Brennan. Her only exercise is a daily walk.
The Solution: Strength training to boost energy now and help tone up postpartum.
- Keep walking daily, says Sharon Monplaisir, fitness expert, former Olympic fencer and mom of twins. "But don't push it. If you get tired, slow down."
- Three days a week, add low-stress moves to increase overall strength, especially in the back. Monplaisir recommends chest stretches, biceps curls, arm raises, leg lifts, and pelvic tilts. These help counteract aches caused by pregnancy and, later, by holding and nursing a baby.
- Kegels, Kegels, Kegels! Squeezing and releasing your pelvic-floor muscles (imagine trying to stop peeing) aids in childbirth -- and recovery. "You don't have to squeeze hard," says Monplaisir, "but be consistent." Hold each Kegel for ten seconds, and do a set of ten two times a day.
- The postbaby plan: Continue this routine, adding reps as you gain strength. Hefting a stroller in and out of the car will also help!