Sneaky Post-Partum Fitness Ideas (Swap A Diaper for Dumbbells)

I’m so excited to have my friend Katy Widrick here today to make us giggle.  Katy and I met through blogging (I owe a lot of my success to her) and have continued to bond and grow with aligning passions for motherhood and fitness.  

She is due in just five weeks with baby #2 and is such a clever mommy with sneaking in fitness while balancing all of the hats she wears; from Emmy-Nominated Executive Producer to full time online influencer and group fitness instructor to creative business coach, if she can find a way to be a fit mom, so can you!


You know, people worry a lot about getting in shape after baby. And I’ll admit — it’s daunting! Having already gone through the process with one kid, I’m gearing up to do it all over again (baby #2 is due in a matter of weeks).

So, as a trainer and fitness instructor, I thought — why not embrace the challenge of trying to fit in fitness on no sleep, while trying to nurse a baby every 30 minutes and in between hormone-fueled freakouts? So I created a realistic “workout” that most new moms do every day anyway.

A -realistic- post-partum workout

Strength Training Ideas:

  • SQUATS (estimated calorie burn: 100-150)

Put your sleeping kid down into his swing, making sure that you keep your knees over your toes, with the weight in your heels. With a neutral spine and shoulders rolled down and back, lower gently down and buckle baby securely. Hold that position while you turn on the rocking mechanism of the swing and for bonus points, stay in the squat as you slowly inch away from the machine, desperately trying not to wake the baby up.

When you’re about two feet away, gently return to your starting position. Remember to take a deep breath!

(You’ll be doing about 10 reps of this move, since baby will inevitably wake up at any number of the following noises: the dog barking, the doorbell ringing, the wind knocking a branch against the window or just the silence itself.)

  • TRICEP KICKBACKS (estimated calorie burn: 50-75)

When you add up the time you spend changing diapers, it can be pretty daunting, right? But you may not realize that you’re already working all of your muscles, and particularly your triceps.

Think about it — what happens when you take off a smelly, soaked diaper? You immediately want to get it away from your nose, right? So you take it off the baby and hold it away from your body, likely right behind your back. That’s a tricep kickback, my friend! And assuming that your baby unloads the way mine did, that dirty diaper probably has some heft to it, so we’re going to call these weighted tricep kickbacks.

To make sure that each side of your body gets a good, through workout, be sure that you switch off which hand holds the diaper at each change. Go through 12 diapers day? That’s 6 reps on each side. No gym needed.

  • DEADLIFTS (estimated calorie burn: 200-225)

You thought you had laundry before the baby was born? The days of one or two loads a week are over. You’re lucky if you only do one or two loads a day, to clean the spit-up-covered onesies, the sheets that didn’t survive a midnight diaper blowout, the burp cloths that handle a lot more than a harmless burp and of course, all of the shirts and nursing bras you’ll be leaking through.

So, embrace the opportunity! Every time you reach down to get the hamper, keep your legs straight (make sure there’s a slight bend in the knees) and hinge forward at the hips until your hands grasp the edge of the basket. Slowly pull the hamper up toward your waist, keeping it as close to your body as possible. At the top of the lift, begin to walk toward the washing machine. Once you arrive, gently lower the hamper to the ground, again hinging at the waist.

Instead of throwing all of the items in together, get a good burn by taking one piece of clothing out at a time. Hey, your spine will thank you, and so will your legs! And by the end of the day, you’ll probably have gotten in two or three good sets of 15 reps each.

Cardio Ideas:

  • keep the diaper station upstairs so that you get some good cardio on your 12-15 trips to the changing table — since you’ll be carrying an 8-pound “weight,” you get extra benefits!
  • put your breast pump in the closet in between uses, preferably on a high shelf; when you finally lug it down, you’ll be out of breath from the effort alone…who needs to job on the treadmill?

In all seriousness, getting back in shape after having a baby can be really tough, and so many of us try to rush the process. It’s crucial that you wait until your body is ready, and until your medical provider has given you the green light. (That’s a for-real warning, mamas. If you had a difficult delivery, tearing, any prenatal or post-partum complications or other issues, you do NOT want to mess around.)

And remember: it took 40+ weeks to grow the kid — it’s going to take just as long and maybe longer to get back to the shape you were in before creating a human. So be kind. Understand that your hormones will be a mess for a while, that if you’re nursing you’ll need to put that first and that may mean that you need to eat more, work out less and wait until baby is weaned to really be able to push yourself hard.

Good luck!

Katy Headshot 300x300Katy Widrick is a NASM-certified personal trainer, AFAA-certified group fitness instructor and a busy mom just trying to find Healthy Living in a Hectic World. She’s also a blog coach and consultant who shares advice on SEO, analytics and making more money online. Find her on-demand courses and services at

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