You may not even be pregnancy qualified (yet), but the guidance you give to your clients during this time can change someone’s experience for the better, or for the worst; and I am guessing we are all interested in making positive impacts on our client’s lives!
Here are 7 ways I have witnessed personal trainers either ruin a woman’s pregnancy experience or made it better – none of which you need a special qualification for*!
- Fixating on weight gain. Sure, there are recommended weight guidelines, which you can view here. However, some women will gain the pounds no matter how healthily they eat. The hormone impacts aren’t always controllable for all women, and if you punish, judge, or emphasize their weight gain you may trigger a preoccupation in the woman herself. There are also some personalities that will already be worried about weight gain and the changes occurring in her body, she needs reassurance, not harsh rulings, she needs guidance to whole foods and nutrition, not diets and fat loss.
Our role, as personal trainers, is always moderation. Healthy weight, healthy mindset, healthy exercise habits. You can get qualified to train pregnant women here.
- Confirming traditional expectations of her birth experience. In my experience, if a woman expects one thing, and the reality is another, then stress, grief, and disappointment is the result. Sharing your story, and stories from your other female clients can help expand her expectations of:– a perfect birth
– her birth going to plan
– her expectation to bond straight away
– her expectation that mothering will come “naturally”
The good, the catastrophic, the perfect, and the modified birth and fourth trimester stories will help build her catalogue of expectations and scenarios, so she’s less shocked when things don’t always go to plan.
- The expectation that she’ll get her baby body back. This is a really damaging expectation that the fitness industry has a lot to answer for. Remember when you sprained your ankle at netball? Was it ever the same ankle? or have you ever torn your rotator cuff, strained your knee, “done” your back? Did they ever “bounce” back to the same rotator cuff, knee, or back? Of course not! You did a lot of work, a lot of rehab, and a lot of resting it before it was even remotely the same – and even now, can you really say it’s the same as before the injury?
Whilst pregnancy and giving birth isn’t technically an injury, it is a major body transformation, both physically, emotionally, and hormonally. The best advice you can give your clients is that you’re going to work with their new, post baby body the same way – put the work in, put the rehab in, put the appropriate rest periods in, and watch her thrive in the post natal period.
- Coaching fear. This is for the ultra conservatives among you! Perhaps you have a catastrophic birth story. Perhaps your trainer let you down in the post natal period an you live with prolapse, incontinence, or other chronic issues. It is important to recognize that this will not happen to everyone. YES, conservative coaching is super important in the early stages of pregnancy, late stages of pregnancy, or where there are complications; but equally important is progressing them when they’re able to, building them up towards the activities that will be required of them when the baby comes.
- Confirming expectations of pregnancy. In the same way that every birth is different, so is every pregnancy experience. Being open to listening to all ranges of pregnancy experience is one of the biggest favors you can do for your pregnant clients. Being okay with the scope of experiences, from a glowing, perfect, and wonderful one to an awful one riddled with morning sickness, pain, and continence issues, will have an impact on her experience too – simply because she’ll have someone to talk to!
- Knowing, and taking action on the Pelvic Floor. Part of having a positive impact on your client’s pregnancy experience is not ignoring the fact she has a pelvic floor, and that being pregnant is a risk factor for developing a dysfunction. You don’t have to be qualified to train it yourself, but if you’re not, then referring her to someone that is is even more important. It is not okay to ignore this fact and continue training her like you did before. We have a 6-Step Restore Your Core and Pelvic Floor process which you can use with anyone with pelvic floor risk or dysfunction, view it here.
Which brings me to…
- Referring out or working with their health providers. Failing to refer your pregnant clients to a qualified pregnancy trainer is a failure to positively impact their pregnancy experience. Even if you are qualified, then referring to women’s health physio’s and working with their midwife, obstetrician, or other healthcare providers is really important if you want to gift them with the best pregnancy training experience possible!
We all have the power to positively impact the pregnant women around us, whether they’re clients, friends, or family, simply by being open to all experiences, sharing stories, and pro-actively taking the pressure off them.
* Having said that, if you’re going to continue to train them through their pregnancy, you need to be qualified in training pregnant women to be insured… furthermore, if we are truly going to give them a positive pregnancy experience, then referring her to train with an appropriately qualified trainer has to be your first step! You can get qualified through us here.