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Getting back into shape
The best way to get back into shape is with exercise. Don’t consider doing anything until at least 6 weeks after birth (12 if you’ve had a caesarean). And check with your doctor that you are physically ready to get going before dusting-off those trainers!
Once you've got the all-clear take things slowly and gently. And don’t forget that your body produced a special hormone when you were pregnant. This relaxed your ligaments and joints more than usual to allow your baby to grow and increased the pelvic area ready for delivery. You probably still have some of the hormone in your system, so you'll be more prone to injury if you're too energetic too soon.
• Start with some gentle walking, building up a bit of speed after a few sessions.
• Pelvic floor exercises can be done pretty much anywhere.
• Once your doctor says it’s OK, try some aerobic exercise; a local exercise class, dancing in your front room, a brisk walk or swimming.
• Some mums even use their baby as part of their exercise routine! If you’re walking, take the buggy.
The key is little and often. Aim to work 10 minutes of exercise into your routine here and there to begin with, working up to 30 minutes three times a week. But always remember to listen to your body!
A healthy diet
You must make sure you’re getting the right nutrients and have at least 2,000 calories a day (more if you are breast-feeding). However, whilst you need to have the right nutrients and not diet, you can keep your fat intake down, which may help with weight loss. Choose low-fat, high fibre foods, swap biscuits for fresh fruit when it comes to snacking. And watch what you drink, you’d be surprised how much sugar can be hidden in drinks.
Losing weight and exercising when breast-feeding
If you are breast-feeding you're already onto a winner! Not only will you be working through any reserve body fat laid down by pregnancy but each time you feed, you'll generate a hormone called oxytocin that will help tone you up naturally!
It’s not a good idea to start dieting at this time. You could end up feeling tired if you don't eat properly. Plus, toxins stored in body fat could be released into your bloodstream. This will affect your milk and your baby might not get all the nutrients they need to grow. And remember not to over-exert yourself – otherwise you're likely to get a build-up of lactic acid in your milk which your baby won't be too keen on!
One final word of advice; exercise after a feed so your breasts aren't too heavy and, of course, a good supportive bra is a must if you want to stay in shape!