Read More: 8 Tips For Women To Lose Weight After Pregnancy

When can I start to lose weight?

So you may want to wait until you've had your postnatal check with your GP before you think about losing weight. Your check will usually happen between six weeks and eight weeks after you've had your baby.

How can I lose weight safely?

Eat healthily, including plenty of fruit and vegetables in your meals. Drink water throughout the day to stay well hydrated and choose the right snacks. As well helping you lose weight at a healthy pace, it will also make sure you have the energy to adjust to life with your newborn.

These tips will help you to achieve and maintain a healthy weight:

Make time for breakfast in the morning.
Eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
Include plenty of fibre-rich foods such as oats, beans, lentils, grains and seeds in your meals.
Include starchy foods such as bread, rice and pasta (preferably wholegrain varieties for added fibre) in every meal.
Go easy on fatty and sugary foods, takeaways, fast food, sweets, cakes, biscuits, pastries and fizzy drinks.
Watch your portion sizes at mealtimes, and the number and type of snacks you eat between meals.

Combining healthy eating with exercise will be the most effective, because it helps you to lose fat instead of lean tissue. You will also improve your fitness levels.

What exercise can I do?

Finding the time to fit exercise into your daily life, now that you have a newborn, can be tricky. But it's not impossible, as long as you make it a priority.

You can start to do some gentle exercise such as walking, pelvic floor exercises and stretching, as soon as you feel up to it. However, you should wait six weeks or so, or until you feel that you've recovered from the birth, before taking up more strenuous exercise.

Or you could exercise with your baby. Take your baby for walks in her pushchair, or try a pram-based exercise class. Find your nearest Buggyfit class here. Group classes are also a great way to meet other mums, and the fresh air may also help to lift your mood.

How many calories do I need?

How many calories you need depends on your current weight, how active you are, and whether or not you are breastfeeding.

It can be difficult to lose weight after having a baby, but try to lose the weight you gained during your pregnancy before you try for another baby. This is especially important if you were overweight or obese to begin with, or if you gained a lot of weight during your pregnancy.

It may surprise you to know that even a small weight gain of one or two BMI units between pregnancies can increase the risk of complications in your next pregnancy. Complications include high blood pressure and gestational diabetes, as well as increasing your likelihood of giving birth to a big baby.

Losing the extra weight you've gained after you've had a baby may also help you to manage your weight in the longer term, and to keep the weight off. It will pay off in the long run in wider health terms, as keeping your weight under control also cuts your risk of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and some cancers.

Does breastfeeding affect weight loss?

If you are breastfeeding, you should wait until you and your baby have got the hang of it before you start to lose weight.

You’ll need slightly more calories than if you were formula feeding your baby. You’ll need around an extra 330 calories a day to have the energy to produce milk. However, some of these additional energy needs will be met from your body’s existing fat stores.

This means that breastfeeding can help you to lose weight if you avoid taking in the extra calories required for breastfeeding, while eating healthily and staying active. Breastfeeding may even help you to keep your weight off in the longer term.

It’s safe to lose weight when breastfeeding if you lose it gradually. Losing between 0.5kg and 1kg (1lb to 2lb) a week shouldn't affect the quality or supply of your milk, or your baby's growth. Losing weight gradually will also make it more likely to stay off in the long run.

When will my body be back to normal?

Give yourself time to get back in shape, and don't despair if the weight doesn't fall off immediately. Ignore stories of celebrities getting back into shape a few weeks after childbirth. Such quick weight loss is unrealistic for the average new mum, so take a more gradual approach.

Bear in mind that your body may change shape after pregnancy, and returning to your exact pre-pregnancy weight or shape may be difficult.

As long as you feel healthy and ready, as a rough guide, you should aim to return your pre-pregnancy weight by the time your baby is about six months old. If you're finding it takes longer than this, don't give yourself a hard time. Just set yourself a target of getting to the weight you want by your baby’s first birthday.

While it’s important to focus on your health it is also important not to set yourself unachievable goals. One study showed that only about four out of 10 mums had lost their pregnancy weight by the time their babies were six months.

If you put on a lot of weight during your pregnancy, it will take longer to come off. If you'd like some help with losing weight, talk to your GP or health visitor about exercise or weight-management classes in your area. Joining a class can help to motivate you and you'll meet other people in the same situation as you.