Five Tips for Returning to Exercise Post-Baby

Hello! I am thrilled to share a guest post with you today, that answers one of the most frequently asked questions since I started working out again, six weeks after giving birth to Katie. Each day, at least a few people reach out over email, Facebook, Instagram or blog comments asking for tips for returning to exercise in a safe and healthy manner after giving birth. Since I am not an expert on the topic, I figured I’d enroll the person who helped me return to strength training – Carolyn. Carolyn is a pre and postnatal health coach and personal trainer who lives in Brooklyn. During my maternity leave I had the pleasure of attending her mother & baby workouts with her two times a week for almost three months!  Enjoy!

I’m so excited to be guest posting on Ashley’s blog while she is adjusting to life as a working mom.  My name is Carolyn and I’m a pre and postnatal health coach and personal trainer – and also first-time mom to Charlie who is about to turn 1 year old! Whoever said that with a baby “the days are long but the months are short” nailed it. I have no idea where the time went, but what an amazing journey it has been so far.

When I became pregnant with Charlie, I was in the process of studying for my health coach and personal training certification. As I learned about various dietary theories and fitness components the body needs to thrive, I felt so lucky that I had this information that I could immediately apply to my own pregnancy. Armed with this wealth of knowledge, however, I became hyper-aware of how little we’re counseled on how to have a healthy pregnancy and postpartum recovery unless we actively seek the information out.

In most cases, we’re told by our doctor that whatever form of exercise we were doing before getting pregnant is fine to continue (within reason) and then we’re quickly given the go-ahead to resume all exercise at 6-weeks. I’ll never forget at my 6-week postpartum visit, my OB cleared me to start running again. It was exactly what I was hoping to hear, but I looked at her in total disbelief. My core felt so weak (and by weak I mean non-existent) and my hips and pelvis felt like – well like I had just pushed out a 9-pound baby! I had exercised almost every day before and during my pregnancy, but pounding the pavement felt like the last thing my body needed. Each and every person’s body is different and every recovery is different, so if you were able to lace up your sneaks at 6 weeks – all the power to you! But if you are wondering how to safely ease back into an exercise routine, here are 5 tips to get you started:

  • Listen to your body. Ashley talks a lot about her fitness journey pre, during and post pregnancy and how she is always reminding herself to build back up slowly. This is so important. No matter what kind of birth you had, your body just went through an amazing, life-altering, endurance test and you know yourself best. If something doesn’t feel right, take a pause. Now isn’t the time to force it.
  • Remember to breathe. Did you know the diaphragm is actually the most important muscle of the core? Here’s a test: Put one hand on your heart and one hand on your belly just below your rib cage. Now take a deep breath. Does your chest or belly rise first? For a variety of reasons, including desk jobs and chronic stress, most of us have become chest breathers, when in fact breathing should come from the diaphragm. While it sounds simple, changing the way you breathe can impact everything from our stress levels to our digestive system.

  • Reconnect with your core. Your core is the foundational aspect of your body that impacts everything else. If you recently had a baby, your core has been stretched in some places, tightened in others, and has been holding everything together for 9 months. It’s tired. It’s weak. It needs some love. Breathing through your diaphragm, doing Kegels and practicing modified abdominal work will help strengthen the inner layer of muscles that have helped carry and protect your little one up until this point.
  • Fire up those glutes. Second in importance to the core, the glutes help support your hips, pelvis and lower back, all of which have shifted around over the past 9 months. Strengthening these guys will help ease any residual aches and pains and provide support to the core. Squats and lunges are the best exercises for your buns and are easily done with baby in tow.
  • Stretch with caution. You may have heard about the hormone Relaxin that is released into your body throughout pregnancy. Its primary job is to loosen up your ligaments to prepare you for childbirth, but while It’s unclear exactly how long your body continues to produce it, some believe it can last up to a year postpartum. So, if you can touch your toes for the first time now that you can finally see them again, just be careful not to get overexcited, it could still be the Relaxin talking. Only stretch out areas that feel tight or like they need to be lengthened to avoid overstretching.

If you have other questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments and, if you are local, I would love to see you for one of my workouts in Carroll Park or Prospect Park.

Share Button

Our First Date Night Post-Baby


Can you tell that Bo and I enjoyed our first date night together since Katie’s arrival? Last night’s date night was a perfect opportunity to reflect on the past 18 week since we became a family of three and remember the strong foundation we had as a couple before her arrival.

Many of our friends and family members recommended that we plan a date night sooner versus later. Luckily, our dear friend Heather, who happens to be pregnant, offered to babysit for us a few times before she and her husband welcome their own child. Heather was a nanny during college for a young child so we felt very comfortable in her ability to watch Katie. Since it was our first time leaving Katie alone, we decided to leave for our date night after Katie went down for the evening. Heather arrived at 7pm so she could keep me company during Katie’s bedtime bottle and also become comfortable with the nighttime routine and our nursery. While feeding Katie, I walked Heather through our typical routine in the chance that Katie woke up while we were gone. At this point, once Katie falls asleep around 7:45pm she typically doesn’t wake up again until 7 AM. However, if she does wake up, it tends to be within an hour of falling asleep and often times it’s due to a wet diaper.

At 7:55 Bo and I hopped in an Uber towards Red Hook, a Brooklyn neighborhood just ten minutes from our house. We wanted to go to dinner somewhere close, in case there was an issue. The only other request I made to Bo, before we chose a restaurant, was that we tried somewhere new. Luckily, the Michelin Guide’s 2017 Bib Gormand list was released this week – perfect inspiration for finding a new restaurant. In case you haven’t heard of it before, the Bib Gormand list features their favorite restaurants where guests can enjoy two courses plus a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less. One of the restaurants, The Good Fork, stood out to us as it is Korean New American food and located in an area of Red Hook we haven’t visited before.


The intimate restaurant seats 30-40 people max and we were lucky to be seated at a cozy, corner booth in the front which provided us the perfect venue to watch the people and food go by throughout the evening.

We toasted with an Old Fashion and Dark & Stormy to celebrate our date night and then got to business, studying the menu. The menu is smaller than most, with six appetizer options and eight main course options. This allowed us enough choice without overwhelming us. We decided to share three of the appetizers so we could taste as many dishes as possible, and then ordered the entrée that they are best known for and which has been on their menu since they opened in 2005.



We started with the homemade dumplings and scallion pancakes before enjoying the farm salad, which included whipped stilton cheese and roasted fall squash. The pork and chive dumplings were crispy yet light thanks to the delicate dough wrapping that didn’t overpower the other flavors.

For our main dish we shared the Steak and Eggs Korean style which was served kimchee rice, fried egg, arugula and apples. The dish was delicious and reminded us of bibimbap. IMG_8570

Last but not least, we shared two of the desserts although we were too full to finish them. Steve’s Key Lime Pie which is a local favorite from a nearby bakery was tart and sweet but I personally thought the crust was a bit much. In my opinion the S’More’s Ice Cream sundae was the winner though just two bites nearly put me in a sugar coma.


And yes, we those parents who took a break during our date to sneak a peek at our sleeping daughter on the Nest camera.


While our date night was only two hours, it was the perfect amount for our first time away from Katie. Our goal is to enjoy at least one date night per month, leveraging family and Heather until we are able to find a local babysitter.

Share Button

Nursery Tour

pink and white nursery

Good afternoon! I can’t believe that it has taken me four months to give you all a tour of Katie’s nursery. This room has become my favorite spot in our home. The cozy space provides a sense of calm even on the craziest of days. When Bo and I decided to transition my home office into a nursery, we decided that the gray walls would remain, as well as the large white Ikea closets. Otherwise, we decided that we would use fabric, prints and other decor to create a peaceful, soothing nursery for our daughter. When purchasing furniture for the nursery, we had to keep in mind that the space of our Brooklyn nursery is only 7 x 12 feet. Many cribs or gliders were too large for the space, so our consideration set quickly reduced. Due to our space constraints, there are some things that aren’t ideal; but overall, we are very pleased with the space.

We decided, from the beginning, that we didn’t want to go overboard with a theme for our nursery. We chose Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit as an overarching theme as both our childhood nurseries had this theme. These prints and this adorable mobile are the main Peter Rabbit items in the room, while there are also some smaller touches like the switch plate and a few books.

Nursery 1

nursery book shelves

We placed the mobile above the changing table versus the crib as a book recommended this as a great way to help babies enjoy diaper changes more AND sleep better when they go down in the crib. We also placed a round mirror over the changing table to open up the room and provide a fun activity space as we read that babies love mirrors beginning as young as two months of age.

nursery changing table

Instead of buying bedding and accessories that tied into the theme, we chose pastel prints and a few stuffed animals and books while letting the rest of the nursery have a pastel tone. My friend Amy gave us this beautiful framed print which fits perfectly over the glider.

Once we found furniture and items we thought we liked, we added them to our registry and then, for the items we bought on our own, waited for sales. Luckily, we were able to get most of the larger Pottery Barn items 40% off during a sale!  After spending two different evenings looking at furniture in their Upper West Side store and taking countless measurements, we settled on the Kendall Dresser & Topper set and the Kendall Low Profile Convertible crib. We liked that once you remove the topper from the dresser it can easily be a dresser in a child’s room and the Kendall crib was more compact than many other styles while still being a convertible crib. We decided to use a gray Keekaroo Peanut on top of the changing table instead of a cushioned, covered diaper pad after having multiple friends recommend this. We have LOVED the Peanut and have even given it as a gift to a friend!  Since the room does not have any windows we wanted to use lots of white and color to lighten the space and ensure it didn’t feel like a cave. However, since the French doors do let in quite a bit of light, especially during the morning hours, we chose to invest in black out roman shades which block the light while also adding a pop of color. The found the fabric for the shades, Zoey’s Garden Fabric by Tanya Whelan Pink Green and White Faux Plaid, on Etsy. We then worked with SewLovelyByKelly to bring our vision to life!

pink and white nursery

The most difficult item to find was a glider that fit the dimensions of our room, was comfortable and could hopefully be used in a living room or family room in the future. There were so many lovely gliders that were WAY too large for our space as the corner dimensions were quite tight. A few of the smaller “NYC size” gliders we tried out in show rooms were either uncomfortable or way too narrow. In fact I remember basically getting stuck in one glider which is crazy since, before giving birth, I had average hips! We were thankful that a few of our friends and family gave us money for our baby shower which we put towards buying the Monte Designs Como Glider. When my mom sat down in the glider for the first time she said “Oh my gosh this is the most comfortable chair ever!”

We wanted a bright, soft rug that would bring color into the space while also being a comfortable place for us to play with Katie. As soon as we saw the Haper Rug we knew that this was perfect for the nursery and love the vibrant pink color. Another way we incorporated color into the room, while also saving some money, was to buy a poof in a light, mint green instead of ordering the ottoman that matches our glider. We found a poof on Etsy which was only $50!

Last but not least, the sheets for the crib are a fun pink and white bunny print which weave together the Peter Rabbit and pink theme.

If you have any question about our nursery, feel free to let me know!

Share Button