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Fitness and beauty for new mums

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What exercise should I do after birth?

Sensible shape-up ideas, plus a clever time-conscious beauty routine, can make you feel like the 'old you'.

Exercise options for new mums

Ignore celebrities who are back in skinny jeans a month after giving birth. Gradual weight loss is best, through exercise and healthy eating. Studies* also show that regular physical activity can reduce the chance of postnatal depression, boost energy and self-esteem – and help you sleep!

Before you start

It's usually at your postnatal check-up about six weeks after birth that you're given the go-ahead to start getting more active. Then run through this checklist:

  1. Have you had a 'Rec Check'? This tests whether your rectus abdominus, or tummy muscles, separated during pregnancy. If you haven't, avoid tum-toning exercises until you've spoken to a postnatal fitness trainer or GP.
  2. Are you breastfeeding? If so, feed your baby before exercise and always wear a sports bra.
  3. What's your action plan? In the months after birth your body is more susceptible to injury, so avoid high-impact exercise.
  4. Are you doing pelvic floor exercises? We know – you're nagged about these all the time. But they're vital to strengthen the muscles supporting your pelvic organs.

Walking

Buy a pedometer to keep track of your progress. Tesco Loves Baby Club fitness expert Joanna Hall says: "A brisk walk with the buggy is the easiest option. For tummy toning, wear a belt and pull in your abs firmly, away from the belt." Find details of Joanna's Walkactive scheme at joannahall.com.

Buggy workout

You'll meet other mums and have a trainer to motivate you. Try Buggyfit or Pushy Mothers.

Mums' and babies' exercise class

Here the focus is on strengthening tummy muscles and pelvic floor, often involving movements to do with your tot. Find an instructor at postnatalexercise.co.uk.

Yoga or Pilates

Find classes for you and your baby. There's baby yoga too – take a look at birthlight.com.

Swimming

Your baby can go before she's had her vaccinations, so if you're feeling up to a dip in the pool too, go right ahead.

New mums' beauty

Speedy skincare

Forget your old three-step routine; a good facial wipe can accomplish cleansing, toning and even moisturising in one quick step. Combine day cream and foundation too, in a tinted moisturiser.

Make-up in a hurry

With a good concealer you can do without foundation and powder. Light-reflecting products are perfect for under-eye circles and dull skin, while an opaque concealer can disguise blemishes.

Cream eyeshadow

Quick to apply and stays put; then you just need a swift flick of mascara. Instead of lip colour that needs touching up, use lip balm for a healthy shine.

Multitasking haircare

Again combined products save you time, such as a 2 in 1 shampoo and conditioner. Let your hair dry naturally until about 80 per cent of the moisture has gone, then blow-dry the front and top.

Handcare

All the washing and wiping takes its toll on your hands, so don't forget a good handcream.

* RCOG Guidelines on Exercise in Pregnancy