“HAVING a baby should be the happiest time of your life but sometimes it can be the unhappiest time,” said mum of two Rhiannon Bates.

The 30-year-old from Fernhill Heath, near Worcester, learnt this from personal experience following the birth of her son Jake in 2012.

She really struggled to adapt to being a mum and was diagnosed with postnatal depression (PND). Although she was aware that her behaviour had changed, she did not know what was causing it.

“It was the health visitor who diagnosed postnatal depression. I rang her one day crying and she made me go to the GP,” explained Rhiannon.

“I was very aware of my own thoughts and how my behaviour changed. I was really angry and short tempered.”

Rhiannon was a qualified and experienced personal trainer – exercise was a very important part of her life. She said she eventually overcame her illness with the help of her family and exercise.

But when she was expecting her second child Charlotte last year, she started to worry a lot about it coming back and how she would manage. “I knew I would need to keep my wits about me and shout for help if I thought I needed it.”

But instead of PND, she found herself struggling with antenatal depression during the pregnancy. She had become ill and was unable to exercise as much as she wanted, which she thinks contributed to her state.

“I had to go on to medication when I was 12 weeks pregnant. The depression did have an effect on my partnership. I had no patience with anyone. Small things got blown out of proportion. It is a lot to do with hormones and exercise helps to regulate that.

“I didn't make it through my pregnancy without needing some extra help with my mental health - lucky I had a fab GP and a very supportive midwife.

“When Charlotte arrived last year I was so happy, she is brilliant. She and Jake get on brilliantly but I found it hard to leave the house. I couldn't face baby groups so we spent our days chilling at home, which is fab but not great all of the time.”

Rhiannon had tried traditional baby groups after Jake was born but she found them competitive and overwhelming.

One of her friends nagged her to go along to a mums and babies exercise class called OneFitMama being run in Worcester and that was the start of her full recovery.

Rhiannon reluctantly went along for one session and loved it so much, she kept going. “I went for the first time and I really enjoyed it. It was fantastic and just what I needed. It was a proper fitness class.

“Everyone was really friendly and it was safe for Charlotte and she was well behaved and she loved it.”

“I like the fact that I could be with other mums but not in a traditional baby class which I found a bit overwhelming.”

With the OneFitMama classes the babies are in the middle of the room with toys and mums do their exercise on the outside while watching over their little ones.

Rhiannon kept going and mentioned to the instructor one day that she was a personal trainer. It was at the exact time the instructor was looking to hand it over to someone else, due to her other commitments. “She asked me if I was interested in taking it on and I said ‘yes’ and I bought the franchise off her.

“I was a self-employed personal trainer anyway and I had planned to go back to it,” she added.

Rhiannon has just started taking OneFitMama classes in Worcester and said that taking on the group has changed her life for the better.

“I am just about to launch some new classes. All mums should have the right to exercise and feel good about themselves.

“OneFitMama isn't about getting your pre baby body back, it’s about having a safe place to come and exercise with other mums while your babies and toddlers play.

“It is all about the health and well-being of mums, this included their mental health which can often get neglected.

“After having a baby our bodies are venerable and require special care, our circuits take into consideration possible issues that mums may have when returning to exercise or just starting out.

“What I like about OneFitMama is that it is all about how you feel in yourself and how getting out and getting active can help you feel better about yourself.”

All mums qualify for a free trial class, although booking is essential, and this be can arranged by contacting Rhiannon by emailing her at worcester@onefitmama.co.uk.

Rhiannon added that there is a health care professional referral scheme where up to two mums can be referred and get the classes free of charge.

GPs, Midwives, health visitors, family support workers and mental health nurses can make referrals in cases they thing suitable.

Rhiannon added: “I hope telling my story will tell other women it is OK and it does get better.”

For information about Rhiannon’s current classes visit https://www.onefitmama.co.uk/worcester.

• The OneFitMama programme was devised by fitness instructor and mum of three Sophie Cooper who suffered from postnatal depression herself. She developed the idea to help other mums in the same position and it was eventually rolled out across the Midlands. It has now spread to other parts of the country.

• Today OneFitMama has expanded to include OneFitBump – antenatal fitness – with exercises designed to keep pregnant women fit and prepare them for the birth. There is also OneToughMama, which is a bootcamp-style exercise programme to keep mums fit well after baby is born. Then there is OneFitCore to help repair and restore weakness in the pelvis floor and core areas of the body. Children are welcome at all classes.