You'll probably often hear new mums bemoan the fact that they no longer get any time to themselves to exercise. And of course it's true that you can't take your baby along to most regular gym classes and team sports, which can make fitting those into your life a lot more difficult. But there are still plenty of opportunities to work out with your baby in tow, so you don't need to hang up your trainers. Here are some ideas.
At the gym
If you're a gym bunny then don't despair, a growing number of gyms are offering facilities to help you with babies, either classes where young babies can go along, or creches where you can leave your baby while you work out close by. If your usual gym doesn't offer these, then have a look around in your area to see what's on offer, and don't forget to ask other local mums for tips. Make sure you'll be happy leaving your baby in the gym creche before you sign up though - checking levels of cleanliness and care (you may be able to have a trial period to test it out). Large gym chains which have creches at some branches include Canons Health Club, Holmes Place, Topnotch, Esporta and David Lloyd's. Many local leisure centres (both council and private) also run creches.
You can also exercise effectively when you're at home, either with a regular early morning slot, or fitting it in whenever your baby naps for long enough to give you a chance. You don't need to set aside a whole lot of time, and you don't need much in the way of equipment. As your baby gets older, you might be able to get in some simple home exercise as your child plays alongside you, or tries to join in! Read our tips for working out at home here.
Out and about
If outdoor fitness is more your thing then having a baby needn't necessarily stop you in your tracks. If you like running then having a baby needn't stop you, with a suitable jogging buggy you can take him for a run in the park, rather than a walk. Depending on your baby, you may have to take care to fit this kind of exercise into or around his sleep routine, with changes as he gets older. Toddlers will probably want to have a good view of what's going on when out and about, so make sure that your buggy of choice offers that. If you don't want your toddler to sleep on a run then do try to avoid times when he's likely to be more tired - you may have to experiment a bit with timing and be prepared that things will probably change over time.
If you need other people for motivation then why not arrange to go with a friend, or have a look for one of the growing number of mum and buggy exercise groups which usually meet in a park for a group work-out. Some examples of these are Baby Boot Camp, Baby, buggy and me and Pushy mothers.
You can get good regular exercise even without donning sports gear - just walking with a pushchair can be great exercise if you keep up a brisk pace for at least half-an-hour, particularly if you can fit in some hills.
For shorter journeys try walking all the way rather than taking the bus or car for ten minutes, and where feasible take the stairs rather than the lift. Some mums swear by the exercise they get from carrying their babies around a lot in a baby carrier while they are still small enough - you will need to invest in a good, supportive and comfortable baby carrier though. This kind of incidental exercise will be great for general weight control, but you'll still need to do specific toning exercises for those problem areas.
Before you take up an exercise regime after your baby's birth, make sure you have a read of our where to start article.