Pick up any women's weekly magazine and you are guaranteed to find pictures of a celebrity who has recently given birth but is already back in her tiny pre-pregnancy jeans. And it's just as likely you will find a story about someone struggling to shift their mummy tummy, sometimes many years on.
First things first, if you have just had a baby please do not worry about 'pinging back' into shape. Remember, it's nine months on, nine months off. Focus on your little one – this time will fly past. For most new mums the baby weight gradually falls off, especially if you go for a walk with the buggy every day, and try to eat healthily. But hey, if you need lots of biscuits and or cake to see you through the hunger of breastfeeding and the jetlagged feeling of broken sleep, then I say go for it.
After I gave birth to both of my children, each time I waited until my postnatal GP check before getting back into proper exercise, and the first classes I did were tailored for new mums. I was lucky that my friend Jane Wake runs special pilates classes, Baby A-Wake, where you can bring your baby with you! I found, like most new mums, that it's hard to go to the gym because you don't want to put a tiny baby into a crèche. Jane's classes are great as your baby is right next to you, so if you have to stop and do a feed or change a nappy then it's not a problem. Plus, you meet other mums and share tips and experiences on babies, toddlers and even husbands. I'd love to repeat some of our chats here, but they'd have to be censored. It's safe to say that every woman feels differently about her body after childbirth and it does take more of an effort with each pregnancy to get a firmer flatter tummy again.
Once my pelvic floor and I were reacquainted I stepped things up a gear. I've been a member of Virgin Active for years and absolutely love their Body Combat classes (an aerobics class with boxing moves), in fact I did them up until eight months pregnant (albeit with a lot less jumping around). A few months into life with a newborn I had more of a routine established so I could plan gym visits between breastfeeds and leave baby with my husband. While it's fabulous to be able to take your baby with you to the gym, it is even better to go on your own. I still love my Saturday morning combat class, partly because I hit the showers there afterwards (all on my own!) and sometimes sneak to the nearest shops before returning home.
While I say there's nothing wrong in eating biscuits there does come a point when you do need to take a closer look at what you're eating and try the old 'move around more, eat a bit less' technique - and not only when you have just had a baby. First time round I hit this point quite soon as I wanted to be telly-ready before I returned to work. In hindsight I probably put myself under a bit too much pressure to shape up, and I lost the weight quickly over a few months and actually ended up smaller than before getting pregnant. I was also a bit grumpy and pretty stressed.
Second time round, I decided to take it easier. Partly because I didn't want to feel any pressure or obsess over losing weight, and also because it's much harder to fit in gym classes with a baby and a toddler. You want to spend time with them during the day and in the evening you're knackered. And even if you want to do an evening gym class, chances are one or both darlings will play up and refuse to sleep and your husband begs you not to leave him alone with these mini monsters.
Unsurprisingly, it took me much longer to get back to pre-pregnancy weight and, to be honest, I still want to lose another half stone (ah, that mythical half stone that we all want to lose). I know that if I really want to lose it then all I need to do is watch what I eat. Though to be honest, I'm sticking to my slowly slowly method of focusing on the fun of exercise without obsessing over calories. I want my children to have a healthy attitude to food and they won't get that if I don't set a good example...
Did you exercise throughout your pregnancy? How are you setting healthy diet and exercise examples for your children? Let us know by commenting below...
Kirsty McCabe writes her weekly column here on www.juniormagazine.co.uk. Follow us on Twitter: @juniormagazine and watch out for the hashtag #somethingfortheweekend every Friday to join in with the conversation
Read Kirsty's columns:
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