If you are a personal trainer, training pregnant clients can be both rewarding and challenging. Knowing the right questions to ask is key in ensuring the safety and effectiveness of your sessions. Here are three essential questions that all trainers should consider when training pregnant clients:
3 critical questions to ask before training expecting mothers:
1. What is your level of exercise pre-pregnancy?
For safety purposes, personal trainers must understand pre-pregnancy exercise levels before creating an individualised care plan. This information allows the trainer to understand better the client’s current body composition and fitness levels to tailor advice on how much activity is suitable for each stage of the pregnancy process. Without this data, there may be a greater risk of injury or straining due to overtraining or inadequate recovery periods.
It is also quite possible that pregnancy motivates women who have previously been inactive to start a fitness program. And although pregnancy is not the time to set PBs, it can be the time to put great exercise routines into place.
This question will help you design an appropriate program. An experienced athlete will have different abilities from a novice. This applies to when your client is pregnant as well.
2. Have you had previous pregnancies? (Don’t shy away from miscarriage or stillbirth)
Although each pregnancy is individual, previous pregnancies can inform Personal Trainers about energy levels, morning sickness and how their body responds to the changing hormones. For example, many women who experience laxity in their pelvic joints or pubis symphysis diastasis often experience it again with each subsequent pregnancy. This condition has enormous implications on how women move, sleep and feel pain.
Every day in Australia, 6 babies are stillborn and 2 die within 28 days of birth (neonatal death), and 1 in 5 pregnancies will end in miscarriage before 20 weeks**. So it is reasonable to expect your client to come to you with this experience.
For those who have experienced a miscarriage or stillbirth, their physical and emotional well-being is impacted by the lack of conversation around these topics.
Fitness professionals must be well-equipped to provide appropriate support for individuals with a history of pregnancy loss. Open conversations about these issues can help create positive psychological effects, allowing clients to manage their emotions better and tackle any anxieties related to new pregnancies. Additionally, this could reduce the stigma associated with miscarriage or stillbirth, as many people feel uncomfortable discussing these experiences openly.
If your client shares her stillbirth or miscarriage experience with you – make sure you listen thoroughly. Your response should be, I am sorry for your loss. And how does this make you feel about this pregnancy?
This is not the time to jump in with your own experience or that of another client. However, being comfortable with pausing can invite your client to share more.
This is called holding space.
3. What are your biggest fears around exercise and your pregnancy?
Under the romance and flowers of pregnancy, for most women, lies fear. Fear of losing the baby, fear of having the baby, fear of losing their current fitness levels, and fears of not being healthy enough to best support the life of their baby. And a big one is fear that the exercise they do with you will harm their baby or jeopardise the pregnancy. There are still myths kicking around that mothers must rest as much as possible to support their babies.
The research shows precisely the opposite. On the contrary, exercise improves the well-being of the unborn child. It has many benefits for the mother as well.
But understanding their fears can help you better explain why you are giving them specific exercises and programs.
Are your qualifications up to date?
My final note about training pregnant clients is that the qualifications you undertook to become a fitness professional do not adequately equip you to work with pregnant women. Completing education specifically around pregnancy, will go a long way to alleviate your client’s fears.
If you have a pregnant client come to you – it is time for you to upskill.
And if you completed your education years ago – it is time to upskill.
*New Course Alert*
In partnership with FITM I will be running 2 live (delivered by ZOOM) Masterclasses (2 hours on Saturday 11th and Saturday 18th of March 2-23) – You will also receive some online training that you will have access to FOR LIFE that supports this live training.
Come and join me! Sign up here
Online pregnancy training options:
If you are looking for a fully online course – this Pregnancy and Postnatal Training for PTs Level 1 only takes 2 hours and is under $100AU!
Both online options have professional development points for PTs in Australia, New Zealand, the USA and Canada! (see below).
Click on the image for more details!
Or if you want to level up – here is a much more comprehensive course – which includes information from Level 1 and way more!
*Statistic from AIHW.gov.au, 2020
** Statistic sourced from Pink Elephants
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