This is a gentle, flexible exercise routine that begins with exercise routines suitable 24 hours after birth that start off with 5 minutes of floor exercises (with no balance ball or other equipment at this point) and 5 minutes of walking.
The goal for the first level of exercises is not to lose weight but to enhance the mothers' physical condition and to enhance recovery after childbirth. There are special exercises to help heal c-section incision area and simple things to do to help prevent c-section scar adhesions. Other exercises help episiotomy site healing, separation of diastasis recti (abdominal muscles) due to pregnancy and exercises for recovering from urinary incontinence and fecal incontinence (which has been linked in a study to be caused by episiotomies).
Another important focus of the book is the goal of not having back pain. The book teaches prevention of back and shoulder injury by teaching proper positions for holding baby, breastfeeding, and lifting baby up, such as when lifting out of crib. Using a stroller is discouraged if the woman has carpal tunnel syndrome due to pregnancy as pushing the stroller can further aggravate the pain and the condition. Use of a front pack baby carrier is recommended as a back-healthy way to carry baby and proper usage of it (so it is comfortable and doesn't cause back pain) is outlined by the author. I have witnessed many people wearning their baby carriers in a way that causes back pain, I encourage everyone to read the manufacturers directions and this authors' directions so using this style baby carrier doesn't cause you pain!
The program progresses in stages up to a 5-star difficulty rating, as the woman desires to get into physical shape with increased aerobic activity designed for fat burning, weight loss and increased muscle strength.
The book features cutout one-sided pages that illustrate an entire workout by name, order, and illustration so the mother can carry it with her for reference rather than propping up the book and trying to keep the book open during the workout. Later in the book are the longer, detailed instructions for each exercise.
There are loads of references to studies on everything from why a vaginal birth is easier on a woman's body to why an episiotomy can cause a woman physical problems to why breastfeeding is beneficial. I was surprised to see so many studies cited throughout the text and in side bar quotes.
Other than some stretching exercises, breathing and abdominal exercies, the baby is incorporated into the routine (but it looks to me that this is only possible when the baby can strongly hold up his/her neck), which is great because doing the exercises won't require mother and baby separation. The exercises can be done in short segments multiple times during the day when the busy mother can carve out these small time segments.
Breastfeeding is portrayed in a positive light, including a photo of the author breastfeeding and with tidbits of positive research about breastfeeding's health benefits and personal opinions of the author about enhancing bonding between mother and baby.
An attitude and emphasis on the woman being the expert of her body is throughout. It begins with self-tests for separation of abdominal exercises, Kegel muscle self tests, etc. and urges the woman to listen to her own body. Using the information in this book the woman can design her own workout schedule and assess her own body's strengths, weaknesses and areas that would benefit from exercising. This book does not promote reliance on exercise clubs, gyms, etc. so this is a low-expense workout. The balance ball that is used in later parts of the text costs about $30 and can be used in the home (which is far less money than most exercise shoes cost).
I especially appreciated that this book does not portray pregnancy or childbirth in a negative light. It is not like other books that almost treat pregnancy as a bad thing for making the woman gain weight and other body changes occur that are negative. It does *not* have the attitude that as soon as the baby is born a mission must begin to get in shape and lose fat. There is no negative language about the physical appearance of the body while pregnant or after the baby is born. The book is more focused on feeling good, developing strong core muscles, and being able to live pain-free.
This is not a killer-workout that requires huge amounts of time and energy; it is definitely do-able at all the stages of difficulty, and will definitely help any mother who uses it.