If you’re keen to get fit, healthy and toned after having a baby, do it the healthiest way for your body. Eating well and staying happy is important (make the most of that support network!), but when it comes to fitness, don’t push yourself too hard. Experts agree that there is too much pressure on women to get back to their pre-pregnancy weight quickly and sometimes unsafely, so be patient with yourself.
Gentle exercise should be okay after your six-week post-birth check (or longer if you had a caesarean) but ensure you check with your GP before starting to exercise and avoid sit-ups or crunches to begin with. "During pregnancy, the abdominal muscles can become weak," says postnatal fitness consultant Jane Wake. "This means some exercises are unsuitable for new mums."
Walking is a great option, and when the time is right, postnatal exercise classes, which include everything from outdoor buggy workouts to yoga, are fun and sociable. "It’s important to choose an exercise that’s safe and effective and that won’t do damage to your abdominals and unstable muscles and joints," says postnatal Pilates instructor Claire Mockridge. "Postnatal Pilates is a good choice, due to its focus on pelvic floor and abdominal strength."
How we did it!
Find activity everywhere: "I put my success down to daily tracking, staying active – whether it’s walking, dancing round the living room or playing in the park – and being utterly determined to set a good example to my children. I gained 7st after having them and so far I’ve lost 4st. I want them to have the mummy they deserve." Amanda, 26, mum to Phoebe, five, and Jacob, two.
Give yourself treats: "I’m only 5lb away from goal, but I haven’t cut out treats. I just limit them. Life’s hard enough with a new baby without making yourself feel deprived. I had a hard labour and it took me four months to recover, and I became a single mother during that time too. Weight Watchers gave me a new focus." Louise, 23, mum to Summer, seven months.
Make the most of meetings: "Meetings are great for new mums because you can have an adult conversation! I’d already lost 2st 7lb when I fell pregnant and put it all back on. So when Jack was six weeks old, I contacted my old Leader and went back to meetings. Now I’m 2lb from goal. The support really helped in the early days." Kelly, 29, mum to Jack, two.