MUMS-TO-BE expect their waistlines to expand during pregnancy.

While eating healthily and staying fit and active is encouraged, weight gain is a natural part of the process.

However, for Eccleshill mum, Emily Clark, nurturing a new life was the reality check she needed to shed the pounds she put on grabbing snacks and other food on the go while juggling her degree studies with a career.

After giving birth to her second child, Findlay, nearly nine months ago Emily is now celebrating her new svelte figure and finally fitting into her favourite jeans.

"I've always been overweight but I have always been healthy and was quite active, but going to university I just really put on a lot of weight. I was eating late and missing meals and grabbing snacks which is not the best thing to do."

Emily, who studied health and community development and is now a youth worker with Bradford Council's Children's Services, initially joined her local Slimming World during her pregnancy with her first child, Freja, now four.

She recalls during a medical appointment reference was made to her BMI being too high and the potential risks during pregnancy were also pointed out.

Emily recalls when she joined the Saturday morning Slimming World session at Eccleshill Mechanics Institute she was five months pregnant. At that time she was wearing size 18 clothes and weighed around 18 stone.

"I know Slimming World works and I know it is approved by midwives so I was doing it safely," she says.

Through Slimming World Emily learned how to eat healthier meals, but she admits she did it 'on and off' and only attended weigh-ins as the demands of being a new mum after having her daughter gave her little time to devote to the group.

"Being a new mum I was so busy and I was just focusing on that," she explains.

The prompt to return to Slimming World came after she became conscious of the size of her stomach while having her 20 week scan during her second pregnancy.

Emily was five months pregnant, weighing around 20 stone and wearing size 24 clothing when she re-joined the class.

"Lots of people think you cannot diet during pregnancy but it's not a diet to me," says Emily, who has overhauled her meals and is now eating healthier food.

She soon switched her favourite sweet treats for healthier foods providing slow energy release.

"I wanted the best thing for my baby but I needed to put good things into me to do this."

She says being among the group gave her the support she needed as well as that precious 'me time' many mums struggle to achieve.

"It is the group support that keeps you going," says Emily.

By Christmas she had lost six stone four and is now looking forward to her wedding to her partner, Darren Rhodes, in August.

For Emily, and the many more who have embarked on their own weight loss journey, it has been a life changing experience.

"It is out of this world. I feel like me again," says Emily, who is now a slinkier size 12/14.

"I was a size 14 when I was younger. I look in the mirror and I feel good," she says.

"It's an extra focus when you are growing a little life. You want to be the best you can be for them."

Emily, who was nominated for her Slimming World group's Miss Slinky award, says while she has always been active, losing weight has given her the confidence to do things she wouldn't do before such as sitting in a swing with her daughter.

"Knowing Freja loves the park I never let my weight or size stop activities but I can happily jump in the swing and swing with her. I can feel confident I can do it," says Emily.

Now she hopes her story will encourage others to make that life changing decision.

"The person inside is what you want to be - you should be that person."

Emily's Slimming World consultant, Kirsty Fountain, who runs sessions on Thursdays and Saturdays at the Eccleshill Mechanics Institute, says: "We do work in partnership with the midwives and we do have a lot of pregnant mums. A lot do decide to carry on during pregnancy. Emily went right the way through her pregnancy and she is absolutely doing amazing.She is incredible, she is an inspiration to the group but also to me. The positivity she uses in the group and to anybody who talks to her is catching, it really is."

Kirsty, who became a consultant in 2016 following her own weight loss journey, says: "The one thing we always say when we do a new member talk is magic happens in the group because that is where you learn things, you get support."

She hopes others will now follow Emily's lead: "My advice is don't worry about being judged. It is walking through those doors and you will be welcomed by friends because that is what they become and it will change your life."