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5 Exercises to Strengthen Your Babywearing Body

How to take the pain out of babywearing.

5 Exercises to Strengthen Your Babywearing Body

Babywearing, in and of itself, is a workout. But if you want to wear your little one without experiencing too much shoulder and back pain, you need to get your body ready.

Babywearing doesn’t just gift you with hands-free parenting. It also strengthens your bond with baby, promotes your little one’s development and helps him be calmer, decreases the risk of SIDS and flat-head syndrome, and even helps prevent postpartum anxiety and depression. But when not done properly, babywearing can be tough on the body; and when it gets painful, parents may be reluctant to do it, especially for longer periods of time.

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So to help you comfortably carry your new bundle on the outside, we’ve put together four exercises that will strengthen your core and back muscles and prepare you for this new journey. Better yet, these exercises, which you can start doing towards the end of your pregnancy, can even help alleviate some of the discomforts that you may experience in the third trimester.

1. Standing pelvic tilts. This move is a great way to gently work your core, which is essential for wearing that hefty bundle of yours. Plus, it can combat that arch in your lower back that comes with late pregnancy, as the bump pulls down.

How to: Find a wall and lean your back against it. You will most likely have your upper back against the wall but not your lower back. Keep your feet hip width apart. Then tilt your pelvis forward and down, or, as they say in yoga, lengthen your tailbone. You will see your belly lift up and should be able to get your lower back closer to the wall. Do three sets of 15 repetitions.

2. Goddess squat. More than just preparing for baby wearing, this exercise is works very well as labor preparation as well. It also gives you strength in the legs and feet and alleviates lower back pain.

How to: In order to get into a low squat like this one, make sure your feet are much wider than hip width apart and your toes are turned out. Then hold onto a sturdy structure to maintain some balance as you come down into a squat, where your bottom sits against your heels. The key here is to not lift the heels off the ground and to try and relax into the position. The grounding and leg strength is what you will take far into your postpartum journey. Try and stay in the squat for 30 seconds and do three repetitions of it.

3. Neck stretch while kneeling. As you are getting used to wearing baby, you may feel tension in your neck and shoulder areas. Though it will get better over time, this stretch is perfect to get ahead of the game and will help avoid neck pain when you are a new mom and wearing and gazing down at your baby all day. It should also feel good all around, especially towards the end of your pregnancy.

How to: Come to a kneeling position and sit comfortably on your feet or in between your feet with a blanket under your hips. This alone may open up the fronts of your legs and get the circulation going. Then place one hand on the top of your head. Elongate the other arm by your side with your palm facing down. While you gently stretch the neck by pulling the head over to one side, work against that stretch by pressing the other palm down towards the ground. Make sure you aren’t pressing too hard. You should only feel a gentle stretch and not try and get your head all the way down to your shoulder.

4. Single leg deadlift. This position will also help gently maintain core strength and combat the back arch that you may develop while wearing a baby in a carrier.

How to: Find a sturdy structure or a wall to hold on to. Then lean forward and come into warrior 3 pose as you would do it in yoga. Make sure that if you don’t have the balance to do this free standing, you hold on to a wall. Extend one leg back and keep your hips level while trying to round your back to avoid slumping. Slowly come back up to a standing position. Don’t do this too fast as you may feel a bit light headed. Try between five and ten repetitions on each leg and hold the extended leg up for about three breaths.

Photography by Stephania Photography.

This is how we’re defining success this school year

Hint: It's not related to grades.

In the ever-moving lives of parents and children, opportunities to slow down and reflect on priorities can be hard to come by. But a new school year scheduled to begin in the midst of a global pandemic offers the chance to reflect on how we should all think about measures of success. For both parents and kids, that may mean putting a fresh emphasis on optimism, creativity and curiosity.

Throughout recent decades, "school success" became entangled with "academic achievement," with cases of anxiety among school children dramatically increasing in the past few generations. Then, almost overnight, the American school system was turned on its head in the spring of 2020. As we look ahead to a new school year that will look like no year past, more is being asked of teachers, students and parents, such as acclimating to distance learning, collaborating with peers from afar and aiming to maintain consistency with schooling amidst general instability due to COVID.

Despite the inherent challenges, there is also an overdue opportunity to redefine success during the school year by finding fresh ways to keep students and their parents involved in the learning process.

"I always encourage my son to try at least one difficult thing every school year," says Arushi Garg, parenting blogger and mom of a 4-year-old. "This challenges him but also allows me to remind him to be optimistic! Lots of things in life are hard, and it's important we learn to be positive during difficult times. Fostering a sense of optimism allows kids to push beyond what they thought possible, like biking without training wheels or reading above their grade level."

Here are a few mantras to keep in mind this school year:

Quality learning matters more than quantifying learning

After focusing on standardized measures of academic success for so long, the learning environment this next school year may involve more independent, remote learning. Some parents are considering this an exciting opportunity for their children to assume a bigger role in what they are learning—and parents are also getting on board by supporting their children's education with engaging, positive learning materials like Highlights Magazine.

As a working mom, Garg also appreciates that Highlights Magazine can help engage her son while she's also working. She says, "He sits next to me and solves puzzles in the magazine or practices his writing from the workbook."

Keep an open mind as "school" looks different

Whether children are of preschool age or in the midst of high school, "going to school" is bound to look different this year. Naturally, this may require some adjustment as kids become accustomed to new guidelines. Although many parents may wish to shelter our kids from challenges, others believe optimism can be fostered through adversity when everyone is committed to adapting to new experiences.

"Honestly, I am yet to figure out when I will be comfortable sending [my son] back [to school]," says Garg. In the meantime, she's helping her son remain connected with friends who also read Highlights Magazine by encouraging the kids to talk about what they are learning on video calls.

Follow children's cues about what interests them

For Garg, her biggest hope for this school year is that her son will create "success" for himself by embracing new learning possibilities with positivity.

"Encouraging my son to try new things has given him a chance to prove that he can do anything," she says. "He takes his previous success as an example now and feels he can fail multiple times before he succeeds."

There's no denying that this school year will be far from the norm. But, perhaps, we can create a new, better way of defining our children's success in school because of it.

This article was sponsored by Highlights. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

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When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

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