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A woman's body is put under tremendous strain during pregnancy and child birth. Although the body will gradually heal itself, you should try to give it a helping hand. And one of the best ways to do this is through exercise. A light workout kick starts your body's rejuvenation functions and will help get you back to your old self in no time. Here are some simple steps you can follow to give your body all the encouragement it needs...

- exercise very lightly in the days after birth. A gentle stroll is ideal but remember to stop if you begin to feel tired.

- start kegel exercises a week or so later. These pelvic pushes are vital to ensure your pelvic region regains its strength and function.

- a month after birth, you can safely increase the intensity of your exercise. But remember don't push yourself too hard. If you feel tired or light headed you must stop immediately.

- don't be in a rush to diet. Women are usually desperate to lose the excess weight they've put on during pregnancy. And the obvious way to do this is by going on a diet. However, this will only make you feel terrible. The last thing your exhausted body needs is a reduction of the energy it takes from the food you eat. If you're breastfeeding, you are potentially also depriving your baby of the vital nutrients it needs for healthy growth.

- get plenty sleep. If you feel tired in the afternoon, go to bed for an hour. There's no point struggling through the day until night-time. And by no means feel guilty about this day-time nap, most Mediterranean countries do it every single day.

- drink a lot of water. Fluid consumption is important for everybody, but it's even more so for new mothers. As well as losing a vast amount of fluids during actual birth, breastfeeding drains the body of substantial levels. Ideally, you should be drinking approximately three litres of water every day to maintain your ideal body balance.

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