Putting on weight while pregnant is normal but most new mums are keen to shift the extra pounds as soon as possible after giving birth.
And with celebrities and models seemingly getting back their pre-baby, runway ready bodies almost immediately, mothers are feeling even more pressure to lose the baby weight and to do it quickly.
So what are the best and safest ways to get your post-baby body into shape? When should you start exercising after having a baby and how did those pesky celebs do it?
Putting on weight while pregnant is normal (CREDIT: Getty)
First and foremost it is essential to get the go ahead from your doctor before embarking on any kind of exercise regime or diet and most experts recommend waiting until after the six week postnatal check up before trying to lose any weight.
Secondly give yourself permission to take it slowly. Aim for a weight loss of around 1 - 2 pounds a week. This pace will not only be sustainable but should not affect your baby's growth or your milk supply if you're breastfeeding.
Remember it took nine months to make your baby and most women find it can take up to a year to feel like their pre-baby selves again, so don't be discouraged if you can't fit into your favourite skinny jeans in the first few months.
What types of exercise will help me lose my baby weight?
Whether you've had a baby or not staying active is important when trying to drop a dress size. Use a combination of cardio and strength training to achieve the best results.
Once you've been given the nod by your healthcare professional why not start with some gentle daily walks with your baby in their pram?
Try some gentle walks with your baby (CREDIT: Getty)
You could also add some moderate stretching and pelvic floor exercises too.
Group classes are a good option as not only will you be under the supervision of a fitness expert but they're a great way to meet other new mums in your area. There are specific postnatal yoga and pilates classes which will help to tone and strengthen your body safely. And if you're worried that exercise will have a negative effect on your ability to produce breast milk then the recent guidelines from NICE (National Institue for Health and Care Excellence) should reassure you. It states:
Try a group exercise class like yoga or pilates (CREDIT: Getty)
'Midwives and other health professionals should encourage women to breastfeed. They should reassure them that a healthy diet and regular, moderate-intensity physical activity and gradual weight loss will not adversely affect the ability to breastfeed or the quantity or quality of breast milk.'
If you're particularly concerned about your tummy and abdominal muscles then there are some tightening moves which you can work into your daily routine.
Here's an exercise plan that could help.
How do I lose weight after a c-section?
The birth experience for c-section mums is a lot different to those who give birth vaginally. It's easy to forget that a Caesarian section is, in fact, major surgery and so the recovery will also be different.
C-section mothers retain a lot more fluid after giving birth which can come as a shock and it isn't until a full six weeks have passed that they are usually free from all painkillers and restrictions. It can take many months for the stomach area to shrink and fluid to pass so while it might be difficult, it's best to enjoy time with your baby and to remain patient.
Losing weight after a baby can be a hard slog (CREDIT: Getty)
Once you have been given the go ahead by your doctor at six or eight weeks post-partum, you can slowly start to exercise regularly. Try walking, jogging, swimming, cycling and abdominal exercises while also reducing your food intake by 100 calories per day. This small amount will help the fat burning process while also being a safe approach if you're breastfeeding.
Will breastfeeding help me lose weight after having a baby?
Women are encouraged to breastfeed for as long as possible and according to the NHS more than 73% of new mums do start breastfeeding. Breast milk is proven to protect your baby from infections and diseases, it can help to build a strong emotional bond between you and your baby, plus breast milk is available whenever the baby needs it.
Breastfeeding could have benefits for you as well as your baby (CREDIT: Getty)
But what are the benefits of breastfeeding to you as a mother? And can breastfeeding help you lose weight?
Jennifer Ritchie, the author of 'I Make Milk... What's Your Superpower?', says there are a lot of misconceptions about weight loss and breastfeeding. She explained: 'Some people believe that the weight just drops off if you’re breastfeeding. Others think it’s hard to get your body back while you’re breastfeeding.
'Neither is exactly right.'
Breastfeeding does burn a lot of extra calories with reports suggesting it could be as many as 850 a day (sounds a lot more appealing than sweating it out on the treadmill...). But losing weight while breastfeeding isn't guaranteed because the process makes mothers hungrier so reaching for extra food during this stage is a normal side effect.
Can breastfeeding help you lose weight? (CREDIT: Getty)
So to make the most of the calorie burn of breastfeeding, simply make a few small dietary changes. Choose filling but healthy foods like oat porridge, brown rice and sweet potatoes and switch out the crisps for lower calorie popcorn. Make life easier for yourself and pre-prepare raw vegetables and fruit which you can keep in the fridge, ready to be eaten when you're feeling peckish.
It's also a good idea to eat smaller, healthy meals but more regularly throughout the day. Don't leave big gaps between meals as this will stop you feeling hungry and you'll be more likely to stick to your healthier alternatives.
Can I diet to lose my baby weight?
Like with starting a fitness regime after giving birth, it's best to wait until your six week check up and the agreement of your doctor before you make dramatic changes to your diet. This could be even later if you are continuing to breastfeed.
Stock your fridge with healthy alternatives (CREDIT: Getty)
But if you're ready to lose weight and you want to combine exercise with a dietary plan, then there are some easy changes to make.
- Breastfeeding can deplete your calcium so top it up with a low fat yoghurt, or soya milk rather than calorie heavy cheese.
- Increase your intake of oily fish like salmon to stock up on its healthy omega-3 fats
- Snack sensibly. Instead of biscuits, crisps and chocolate try to reach for wholegrain cereal, dried and fresh fruit and nuts and seeds.
- It's important to stay hydrated so ensure you are drinking lots of water as well as juice, squashes, soup and teas and coffees. Opt for decaff if you're breastfeeding though.
- Try and plan your meals and snacks so that it's easier to stick to healthy options rather than sugary treats.
- Balance hormones with zinc found in red meat, nuts, seeds and oats and vitamin B6 which is in broccoli and bananas.
- Maintain your blood-sugar levels with low Glycaemic Load foods. Avoid refined and sugary carbohydrates.
- Eat whole grains, beans and fibrous fruits and veg to help digestion.
- Keep your folic acid intake up with green vegetables and pulses.
One well known new mum who has been on her own baby weight loss journey is presenter and DJ Neev Spencer. After putting on three stones (20KG) while pregnant with her daughter Genevieve, she found her attempts to shed the pounds were hampered; first by the fact she gave birth by c-section and then three months later discovering she had a slipped disc which entailed more major surgery.
Neev Spencer had to focus on her diet after exercise was ruled out due to a slipped disc (CREDIT: Neev Spencer)
So Neev decided that changing her diet would be the only way she could get back to the svelte figure she had before becoming pregnant. She explained:
'I’ve done it 99% diet because of my back.
'I knew I couldn’t try to lose any weight with the help of exercise, it would all have to be diet. It basically meant eating lots of healthy fats, lots of greens, no wheat, no refined carbs and no sugar whatsoever.
It's a tough regime and Neev says she's had to be very strict but all the effort has been paying off: 'I started it on October 12th last year and it’s now coming up to nine months and I’ve lost nearly 13 KG.'
Neev three months after giving birth to Genevieve (CREDIT: Neev Spencer)
But Neev says ensuring you get proper nutrition is the most important thing and that new mums should try to remain patient. She said: 'The best advice I’d give is not to be too hard on yourself.'
So what does an average day on Neev's baby weight loss diet look like?
Breakfast Two eggs with butter and bacon Coffee with a splash of cream
Morning Snack Five almonds at 11am Coffee with a splash of cream
Lunch Salad dressed in olive oil and lemon, with plain chicken or fish
Afternoon snack Celery and houmous and a few olives
Dinner Chicken, fish or steak with loads of vegetables and salad Strawberries and cream Two squares of 90% dark chocolate
Neev also has a herbal tea before bed and stays hydrated with lots of water throughout the day.
Neev after nine months on her diet plan (CREDIT: Neev Spencer)
I've lost some of the baby weight but now I've plateaued. Why can't I seem to lose the fat no matter what I try?
So you've started a diet, have been exercising regularly and for the first few weeks the weight was coming off. But now it seems to have stopped regardless of your lifestyle changes. How totally frustrating.
But be reassured you're not alone. Hitting a weight loss plateau is normal and especially so for those who have recently given birth.
Don't give up if you feel your weight loss has plateaued (CREDIT: Getty)
So how can you lose those final pounds?
You're going to need support so get your partner on the healthy lifestyle track with you. Suggest taking a walk instead of collapsing in front of the television together. Take another look at your fridge and cupboards and get rid of any high-fat and processed foods. Then replace it all with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, lean meats and fish.
Try to squeeze a little extra physical activity into your routine. Walking to the shops and other household chores can really increase the number of calories you burn alongside your more intense exercise regime. And as boring as it sounds, remember that it's as simple as burning more calories than you consume.
Switch up your fitness. Try a new gym class instead of running, try yoga instead of weights. It's all about increasing muscle tone and tricking your body by keeping things fresh.
Stay positive and appreciate the results you've already achieved.
How did Holly Willoughby lose the baby weight?
This Morning viewers have been amazed by Holly's slimmed down figure with the mother of three appearing to be even more slender in recent weeks. And it seems the secret to her toned physique is Pilates.
According to Lynne Robinson, the director of Body Control Pilates, Holly has been having weekly classes at her home since the birth of her daughter Belle in 2011.
Holly Willoughby seems to have slimmed down even more in recent weeks (CREDIT: Getty/Instagram/HollyWilloughy)
The Pilates supremo told The Sun: ‘I worked with Holly for several months, teaching her privately at her home once a week.
'Holly had postnatal mat work classes which concentrated on strengthening and toning her core.'
So there you go! Where do we sign up?
How did Billie Faiers lose her post-baby weight?
The TOWIE star is mum to two little ones and only gave birth to son Arthur in March this year. But by May she was already back in her skinny jeans. So ho did she do it?
Billie went up from a size 8 to a size 10 while pregnant and told New! Magazine that she credits her shrinking post-baby figure to breastfeeding, something she didn't do with daughter Nelly.
Billie Faiers credits breastfeeding with her weight loss second time around (CREDIT: Instagram/BillieFaiers)
Adding in an interview with Closer: 'You can feel your tummy almost contracting while you breastfeed.
'It's funny, but I think it's definitely helped me slim down.'
It was a different story after Nelly's birth in 2014, however, when Billie used quick bursts of exercise to help regain her pre-baby body.
At the time she told Now Magazine: 'I rarely get time to myself, so I’ve been doing exercises around the house. When I have a spare five minutes, I do a set of 20 squats and crunches.
'I do five sets over the course of the day - when I get out of the shower or when Nelly is asleep or playing on her mat.
'I’m also constantly on my feet and lifting the baby, so I’m burning energy and keeping my metabolism moving and I’ve been doing loads of walking near my house in Brentwood.'
How did Kim Kardashian lose her baby weight?
Kim Kardashian is famous for her killer curves but even the queen of reality television wanted to slim down after the births of her two little cuties, North and Saint. And while we've seen pictures of her going hard with her fitness regime, it seems a strict dietery plan has also had its part to play.
Kim's nutritionist Colette Heimowitz revealed to EliteDaily exactly how she lost the baby weight and stays trim. And it's all about filling up on protein and avoiding sugar.
Kim Kardashian has had the help of a nutritionist (CREDIT: Getty/Instagram/KimKardashianWest)
She told the publication, 'The body is only built to circulate about the equivalent of 1-2 teaspoons at a time… but if you’re constantly drinking sugar and eating carbs that turn to sugar in your body, you’re wearing down your sugar metabolism over time… and a lot of that excess sugar converts to fat, and that’s how you gain all your weight.'
She adds: 'Our blood is made of protein and if you were to mix protein with sugar, you’d get caramel.'
Heimowitz says that Kim makes sure she gets enough protein in her diet to keep her satisfied and to stave off hunger pangs. Her best advice to those wanting to replicate Kim's flat stomach? Be aware of the carbs you're consuming. She explained: 'The best thing is to count carbohydrates… Figure out what you’re doing now… count the carbs you normally eat in a day, and cut them in half.'