Most women who have a Maternal Health Trainer are directed from Maternal Lighten Up, the telephone support service. Those with a BMI of 30 or over are given the choice of three services to work with – Birthfit classes, Slimming World or a Maternal Health Trainer – and Maternal Health Trainers are the most popular option.
Three of our Health Trainers are specifically trained to advise on maternal healthy weight. Vicki Bond explained how her work differs when she’s supporting a pregnant woman:
“The format is generally the same as general Health Trainer support – six appointments, with advice tailored to the individual’s needs – but for maternal clients it’s about managing a healthy weight gain, rather than losing weight. The appointments cover diet, as they usually do, but as well as the government recommendations (“five a day”, etc), we include extra information specific to pregnancy: things to avoid and things to try and include, like foods rich in iron. It’s also particularly important to cover food safety: making sure food is cooked thoroughly, for example.
“Often we find that women have stopped exercising, so we talk about which exercises are safe to do during pregnancy, like swimming. Depending on the trimester we might suggest aquanatal classes, or yoga. We also talk about the benefits of breastfeeding, and how mum’s diet can help baby in the longer term.”
Clients often tell us they feel like they would have gained more weight if they hadn’t been with the service. For most, simply being encouraged to check their weight regularly and do some light exercise makes a big difference. And, after the service has finished, many continue with the routines that they’ve started during pregnancy – like swimming, which is great for mum and baby.
When Mumina* joined the service, she said:
This is my third pregnancy and I dont want to get as big as I was with the other two. I put on so much weight I was in pain all the time.
Her Maternal Health Trainer, Joy, worked with her to look at her diet and routines around mealtimes, and to make some small changes. Two months later, Mumina said:
I feel happy. My baby is due in three weeks and since being pregnant I only gained 6kg. I am glad I followed your advice.
In the summer of 2013, Rachel worked with a former Maternal Health Trainer, Richard, who helped her to come up with her own healthy eating and exercise plan. She saw the benefits straight away, and found it motivating to keep a diary monitoring her food and activity.
We took this video of Rachel a couple of weeks before her due date and Rachel gave birth to a healthy baby girl in the autumn of 2013. When we last spoke to her she was very pleased to tell us she was wearing her pre-pregnancy trousers again!
*not her real name