5 April, 2024

The importance of staying healthy during pregnancy is a topic that isn’t lost on any of us. We’re often told that good lifestyle choices can have a positive impact on the unborn child’s development later in life, whilst bad lifestyle choices can have the opposite – which are both true. However, the same focus is seldom put on the mother’s journey after pregnancy.  

This is a reality that new mum Emma Redding became all too aware of after she gave birth to her first child in 2002. After experiencing what she described as ‘unhealthy maternal fat gain and low energy levels’, Emma decided to get back into exercise. Before long, she found herself setting up classes for other post-natal mothers. In the years since, her company has grown into an international brand. BuggyFit has helped thousands of mothers discover and regain fitness. This has in turn helped them to reduce their risk of diseases such as diabetes, heart failure and breast cancer. Research shows that maintaining the correct weight for your height is a key part of reducing your risk of breast cancer. In addition, being active can reduce your risk of breast cancer by around 20%. 

‘Weight gain can be a struggle for new mothers’

“I really struggled with the weight gain after pregnancy. Before my first child, I was very active and exercised at least four times a week, but this changed during the post-natal stage. My body didn’t feel the same. I felt heavier, my desire to exercise was no longer there, and I fell into unhealthy habits. The post-natal stage can be the most insecure time of a woman’s life. Every day can feel like a  minefield of  physical and hormonal changes that take place.  

“In the grand scheme of things, it’s such a short period of your life but it’s also a time when we’re acutely aware of the long-term effects of the decision and who will be impacted by it. I knew that by reintroducing exercise into my life and continuing down that path, I would be able to reduce my chances of health complications later in life. Mothers want to be around for their children for as long as possible and that directly correlates with keeping fit. 

‘Aim to do a little bit every week’

“There’s an idea that has been promoted by celebrities that the goal after giving birth is to ‘snap back’ and ‘rebound’ as quickly as you can. If you just run from A to B as soon as you’ve had a baby, then B can look quite different (injuries, joyless and painful), but if you do a little bit every week then you’ll get to a place where you’ll be happy throughout the process and not just at the result. I followed that mantra and haven’t looked back since! 

“I knew that I couldn’t be the only mother who felt this way. This experience led me to create my company BuggyFit. It began as three classes a week, with a few mothers attending classes in the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire area. Over the course of twenty years, we’ve grown our offering to classes all over the UK and abroad.  

“I’ve also been able to recruit trainers with expertise to help craft our offering of outdoor activities. This includes a mix of cardio, body strength, and core training, finishing with stretches. We even offer a Buggyfit at home programme to help mothers who struggle to find the time t attend classes. From a disease prevention standpoint, exercise after pregnancy is crucial. In the short term, it improves mood and strengthens muscle groups. In the long term, it can help to reduce your chances of developing high cholesterol, hypertension and various cancers.  

‘Every pregnancy is different’

“Pregnancy is such a unique life stage because not everyone goes through it. That’s why it’s important for women to have access to groups and organisations like BuggyFit, Breast Cancer UK and the NHS that they can turn to for reassurance. 

“Every pregnancy is different, and therefore, every postnatal health journey is different too. It could take six months or maybe nine months or even longer to feel like yourself again, and that’s okay. The main message I want people to take away is that being healthy after pregnancy is just as important as being healthy during it.”

Note: Please make sure that you get the consent of your GP to exercise soon after childbirth. In some cases, there are underlying conditions that may exacerbated by heavy exercise during the post-natal stage.

If you want to find out more about reducing your breast cancer risk after childbirth, check out our brand-new life stages resources! Additionally, if Emma inspired you to take up exercise during your pregnancy head over to her website for more tips.  Follow BuggyFit UK on Instagram.

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