‘I feel as though I’ve been a better mum’ - Anna reaps benefits from antenatal course

Anna Farrington with son Mikey and Helen Bye (Abbeycroft Fitness Instructor) Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Anna Farrington with son Mikey and Helen Bye (Abbeycroft Fitness Instructor) Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Abbeycroft PR

A mum from Newmarket has said the support she received from an antenatal programme probably stopped her from developing postnatal depression.

Baby Grace, now 13 months old Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Baby Grace, now 13 months old Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Abbeycroft PR

Anna Farrington, mum to Mikey, two, and Grace, 13 months old, has said Active Mums Antenatal Care, run by the Abbeycroft Leisure social enterprise, has played such an important part in her life - spurring her on to shed three stone in weight.

The free programme, to support women to make healthy choices in their pregnancy and meet other mums-to-be, is a 90-minute session incorporating an antenatal appointment with a midwife, advice on a healthy lifestyle choices, plus 30 minutes of physical exercise.

It’s been on hold since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, but Anna has been carrying on the good habits she’s learnt.

MORE: Hospital reassures parents after coronavirus cases confirmed on Ipswich maternity wardAnna said: “My health has dramatically improved since I have been coming to this group. I am more aware of the food I’m eating, my exercise levels, but also my mental health. I am extremely lucky that I didn’t have postnatal depression, but I think that’s probably because I had the support of [fitness instructor] Helen and her team.

2019 Newmarket Leisure Centre Active Mums Group Picture: CONTRIBUTED

2019 Newmarket Leisure Centre Active Mums Group Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Abbeycroft PR

“I feel as though I’ve been a better mum, knowing that I have given both my children the best start in life because I felt informed, and supported in the group, especially when I was struggling with anything such as breast feeding or family issues.”

Anna said she used to be an active person when she was younger, playing football, hockey and she danced. However, as she got older, she became a fan of partying and socialising and her sport and exercise seemed less important.

Although she tried on several occasions to get back into exercise, “I just never seemed to manage it and I did gain weight”.

MORE: ‘I felt so alone’ - Mums-to-be miss out on key pregnancy checks as hospitals cancel appointmentsShe heard about Active Mums when she was pregnant with her son Mikey and although she was a bit sceptical, as a first time mum-to-be, she thought she’d try it.

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“I’m so glad I did, because I enjoyed the programme so much, I continued to attend after he was born, and during my second pregnancy for my daughter Grace.

“Active Mums has been amazing for me. I made some really good friends, I had the support of a midwife and a fitness instructor (Helen Bye) and I always felt as though my health was at the forefront of everything they did.

“As a new mum, I wasn’t getting that much sleep and my husband had returned to work, so I didn’t want to leave the house very often, because my confidence was low. But I would always make the exception for Active Mums on a Monday because I knew that other mums there would be feeling the same as me.”

She said thanks to the good habits she learnt from the programme, since the first lockdown in March she’s managed to stay active, healthy and has lost three stone in weight.

“I haven’t been the healthiest over the last 15 years, however I am now running three times a week, I walk constantly with the children, and I’m looking after what we all eat as I want to show my kids the healthy way to live,” she said.

MORE: Loan of £1m for West Suffolk gym provider from councilToday is Social Enterprise Day to celebrate and raise the profile of social enterprise around the world.

But many social enterprises are facing extreme operational and financial challenges due to the economic and social restrictions currently in place, jeopardising the vital work they do, which is now more important than ever.

Abbeycroft Leisure is one of the largest, independent leisure trusts in the UK, reinvesting any financial surplus they make back into the organisation.

They manage 16 leisure facilities, many on behalf of West Suffolk Council and Babergh District Council and one in Cambridgeshire.

As well as managing leisure facilities, they also run community programmes, large-scale activity events and contribute to the wider public health agenda, with initiatives such as GP referral schemes and atrial fibrillation testing at their centres.

•Abbeycroft hopes to restart Active Mums soon.

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