As demonstrated by my very cool and motivated mother's group!!
These exercises get the pelvic floor engaged, the abs back together, and the the arms, back and butt stronger than ever! You can pretty much perform any dumbbell or kettle bell exercise with the baby as a weight (obviously not single hand stuff - safety first!!), but these are my functional favourites for mums.
1) The Squat and Lift: performed with perfect posture, this exercise trains your shoulders, back, butt, and thighs. In addition, the momentum created by standing and lifting is great for your baby's head control and neck strength. Babies usually love this one.
2) Leg Out and Curtsy: If we imagine the pelvic floor musculature like a stocking stretched over a coat hanger, this movement of your legs is like stretching and twisting the coat hanger, thus engaging and training the pelvis floor. The balance aspect is also great for those joints which will still be unstable if you are breastfeeding. The curtsy is great for your VMO and glute muscles, which are weak in alot of women, causing knee, hip, and lower back pain. If you add a little hop when your leg is out, you will engage another 20 micro volts of force in those pelvic floor muscles.
3) The Stiff-Leg Deadlift: Performed with a pram, this is an intense nerve, hamstring and lat stretch. With your baby in front of you it is a huge back and hamstring strength exercise. Single leg adds butt and knee stabilisers. Make sure those shoulder blades stay down and your back is board-straight.
4) Pilates Sit-Up: usually i am not a fan of sit-ups. However this method increases the mobility and flexibility of the lower back, and we can work on posture in the sitting phase of the exercise. Adding a side bend or twist at the sitting part challenges the back and ab muscles, as well as increasing the mobility of your entire spine. Adding a baby will challenge your shoulders and back more, but it is assistance in the sitting up part, as the baby-weight works like leverage. Standing up and using the pram is mostly a stretch, but you will feel those obliques working too!
Sets of 10 mean that you can work on your technique, and rest enough to keep the movement perfect. Make it harder by increasing the sets you do. Going for 20 reps when your baby is over 5kg may mean that you sacrifice your posture, which is just not worth it!! Half an hour of total exercise like this is plenty, although with chatting we took about an hour today!
Let me know how you go