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Anna Williamson navigates the conflicting advice

Should you sit on the sofa and eat cake or get back into exercise, wonders Breaking Mad author Anna Williamson

Parenthood, as I've discovered, comes with a free pass to cliché-ville.

They grow up so fast.

Cherish them while they're young.

You'll never sleep the same way again.

Being a new parent also seems to be an open forum for all manner of conflicting advice.

I thought pregnancy was bad enough for the deluge of well-meant yet annoying suggestions but, actually, nothing quite prepared me for the amount of confusing and conflicting messages that come now I’m through the first wobbly few months and the stabilisers have come off.

We're already making headway into 2017 and, having fully succumbed to festive feasting, telling myself I deserved it because I was still nursing my newborn, I have now reached the stage where I need to do something about my post-baby body. Or do I?

For this is the problem I find: once we've been signed off fit, healthy and healed by the doctors; free to pick up life where we left it at the labour ward door, there’s a chorus of differing opinions on when, how, and if, we should 'get back in shape'.

I'm fortunate enough to be married to a personal trainer and nutritionist who has been super-supportive throughout the whole baby process. He encouraged me to swim in the latter stages of pregnancy, and gave me exercises to help me restore that pesky pelvic floor post-birth.

The excuses have all but run out.

Now sixteen weeks post partum, I started January with the usual good intentions of cutting back on my cake and carb consumption, and, having bust out of a pair of elasticated jeans, promising myself that I would start the slow road back to pre-pregnancy fitness. After all, the doctor has given me a clean bill of health, the episiotomy scar has healed, my husband has written me a gentle training programme. The excuses have all but run out.

All Lycra'd up and ready to hit the gym for my inaugural session back, my phone buzzed and reminded me I should, in fact, be on my way to a mums’ 'coffee and cake' meet up. And this is where the conflict comes in. If you turn down sugar-laden treats, you earn a lecture in how 'you should be relaxing and enjoying these first few months' and 'you're sleep deprived, you deserve it', and 'your body takes at least a year to properly heal, don't bother with the gym yet'. But if you eat the cake, you end up feeling sluggish and unhealthy. The term, 'piggy in the middle' has never felt more apt.

On one hand I want to get back to some good exercise and healthy meals. My lethargy and sallow skin will certainly thank me but, on the other, I'm still not sure if I should just be relaxing.

So with the doctor, mum and husband telling me it’s fine to get back to some gentle exercise and perhaps laying off the sweet treats a bit for the sake of my health, and my new mum friends encouraging me to help prop up the caffeinated beverages and cake industries almost single handedly, I’ve decided to amalgamate the two schools’ of thought.

One or two gentle gym sessions here, a cake and coffee and a relax there. What’s going to work for me is to take everything in moderation, if you’ll forgive the cliché.