Reversing the Baby Holding Hunchback

I was going to call this post "Stretches for the Nursing Mother" because a few friends have asked for them specifically (Hi C! Hi R!) but you certainly don't have to be a mother or be nursing to benefit from these stretches. However, if you happen to be nursing a 12 pounder one-handed while chasing a toddler like I am, you might find yourself craving these stretches on a regular basis.

I was always so careful about my posture when nursing Zoe. I had a spot on the couch all set up with multiple pillows and drinks and snacks and I would stay in one spot, perfectly supported, for the whole nursing session.

Now, I've perfected the art of slumping over to nurse Eliza on my lap while simultaneously wiping Zoe's bum at the same time. Just so you know: NOT SO GOOD.

So. Here are the stretches that I do on a regular basis to help. (Those of you who do Pilates will instantly recognize that NONE of these stretches are classical Pilates. However, what I teach is more of a hybrid of Pilates, yoga and physical therapy exercises and I use these stretches all the time with my clients. They are all great for helping reverse general slumpitude.)

All stretches should be held for 30 seconds-2 minutes and feel good. Please see a doctor before starting any exercise regime BLAH BLAH I'm not a doctor BLAH BLAH please don't sue me BLAH BLAH BLAH.

1. This doorway stretch really opens up your chest and shoulders. Make sure you don't sag in your midsection. Use the 30 second stretch as an opportunity to pull your navel to your spine and hold your core (I know you were just DYING for that opportunity, right?.) (Please excuse the lack of make up here and the apparent face-melting disease. Jeez. When, exactly, did I get JOWLS?)

2. This next stretch also addresses your chest muscles but adds in a stretch for the biceps and forearms which get super tight from holding a baby all day. Hold your best posture through your spine for the entire stretch, no twisting or sagging in your core. (This a recent haircut here and a bad one. What is it about hairdressers that when you say "make the shortest layer shoulder length", they somehow hear that as "ear length"??)

3. The stretch pictured below is a great one to stretch out the back of your shoulders, upper back, neck and forearms. Try to pull your shoulder blades apart and inflate all the little spaces between the ribs in your upper back as you breathe. (I gave up on the hair and put it in a pony tail.)

4. From the above stretch, move into the stretch below. Since I am always gazing down into little faces in my lap, the front of my neck gets super tight. This stretch basically reverses the position I'm in all day and keeps me from getting tension headaches.

5. I LOVE this stretch. It is a great all around body stretch, addressing shoulders, upper back, chest, butt and hamstrings. If I don't have time for anything else, I try to do this one. Once again, keep your core engaged to protect your lower back. It also works well to put your hands on a bathroom/kitchen counter and do this.

6. This next one is a stretch and a strengthening exercise all in one (we Pilates instructors are sneaky that way). Although I appear to be being held up at gun point (and perhaps forced to smile OMG WHAT'S WITH THE SERIOUS FACE AND DEATHLY PALLOR?), I am actually stretching my chest and strengthening my upper back. This exercise looks silly but is quite challenging. Make sure your ribcage stays on the wall and your shoulders are as relaxed as possible. (ie. you aren't wearing them as earrings.)

7. I almost forgot! ("Ma! Would you go get the camera again!?") This is a great one for the whole shoulder-blades-as-earrings issue mentioned above. Notice that my hand is hooked under my seat. You can also just sit on your hand if you are on a couch. Note that the top hand is not pulling on my head, just adding a little weight for extra stretch.

So there you have it. Clueless But Hopeful Mama's tips for reversing your baby holding hunchback. There are a bunch of great ones that are done lying on the floor but since taking those pictures would have involved things like vacuuming up dog hair and clearing a path through the plethora of plastic toys that I swore I would never buy, I decided I'd stick with seated or standing stretches.

(Now if Sunday's picture didn't prove me to be not vain [unvain? vainless?] then these pics surely do. That's how much I love you C and R.)

Happy Stretching!


Hillary said...

Thank you!

artemisia said...

This is awesome! Thank you!

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