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Book Review
Bounce Back Into Shape After Baby

By Caroline C. Creager

Reviewed by Melissa Rice Noble
Cherry Hill NJ USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 20 No. 5, September-October 2003, pp. 190

Bounce Back Into Shape After Baby by Caroline C. Creager makes new mothers and the newly born feel good-together! The author includes detailed information related to the postpartum period, starting a new mother "from scratch" with her exercise program. The exercises are baby-inclusive, creative, and fun...and the stretches are phenomenal. The book is summed up in tear-out, mini-workout pages that can easily be brought to the gym, park, or basement floor.

The author speaks "the mother tongue"; it's clear she is familiar with life with a baby. She gives tips on selecting sports bras and combining nursing with exercise. She knows how your shoulders creep up toward your ears when feeding a baby. (The "Side Neck Stretch" and "Back of Neck Stretch" relieve that tightness.) The most awesome stretch for a sling-wearer is the "Abdominal and Back Stretch," which "improves posture by stretching the abdominal and back muscles in the opposite direction of the slouch." It's almost a back-bend over an exercise ball, and it feels amazing. She includes an exercise flow chart on which to document progress.

The ball workouts are fun, and, after a practice run, they allow you "time to workout while entertaining your baby." Many of her exercises include the little one, such as "Pelvic Tilt While Sitting on Ball with Baby" (which is fun just to say), "Back and Neck Strengthener," "Oblique Exercises," "Shoulder Rowing," and more.

I'll admit, the concept of exercising with a big rubber ball put me off at first. I had to locate one, and then when I sat on it, I felt like an enormous hen. But getting past that was well worthwhile. She explains that "exercise is a natural mood enhancer and can help reduce stress and depression," and she provides detailed information to help new mothers get moving. The ball strengthening and stretching exercises in the book can be combined with aerobic exercise (three to five times a week) to "further enhance your potential to burn fat, improve stamina, and strengthen your heart and lungs."

The most outstanding feature of the book is the series of 10-minute mini-workouts, presented as a quick reference on perforated, illustrated "cheat sheets." These exercise combos use the exercises illustrated throughout the book for "time-efficient workouts that can be squeezed into any part of your day." Definitely mother-friendly.

Intimate personal problems a new mother may experience are addressed in a kindly, mother-to-mother manner. Caroline Creager provides straightforward information that new mothers need to know but may be too embarrassed or hurried to ask their doctor. She doesn't hesitate to address such personal topics as scar tissue massage, back pain, abdominal muscle separation, pelvic strengthening, urinary or fecal incontinence, and posture. She offers a veritable salad bar of Kegel exercises.

Some fitness gurus come across as impregnable, rock-hard fortresses of fitness. Others seem to use their own offspring as a handy segue into the maternity market. Ms. Creager devotes her book not only to the search and rescue of one's pre-pregnancy posterior, but to actually enjoying baby. So browse the book and have a ball.

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