Pregnant women want to be fit and healthy too! But before you start adding pregnancy exercise to your repertoire, consider the following five expert tips.
No two pregnancies are the same
Every pregnancy is unique – even the second or third pregnancy of an individual woman will be different to her first. Say birthing experts: “When it comes down to it, there really is no predicting what any particular pregnancy will be like.” What this means is that you can’t adopt a one-size-fits-all approach. And you can’t expect every woman who signs up for pregnancy personal training with you to behave or respond the same way to your training programme. The experts agree: it’s key to rely on the individual’s cues and her verbal feedback during each workout.
Get her doctor’s approval
Generally, gynaecologists and obstetricians are happy for their patients to stay active during their pregnancies, and enrol in pregnancy exercise and personal training, since there are so many benefits for mom and baby. But it’s wise for you to get in touch with her doctor and get his approval.
Avoid dangerous or risky exercises
During the first trimester, especially, be sure to keep her heart rate in a moderate range as a high heart rate can trigger risks. Also, make sure she doesn’t overheat. Studies have shown that if a mom’s temperature rises above 38 degrees this can be fatal for her and the baby. Also, make a note to avoid exercises that are considered risky. These include supine exercises (i.e. done lying flat on her back), crunches or sit-ups and plyometrics (i.e. explosive movements, like burpees). Also, be aware that because of the hormonal changes in her body, her tendons and ligaments will be more flexible, and there is the risk that she’ll over-stretch. Take care to limit deep stretches.
Lower weights, but do more reps
Weight training used to be considered dangerous for pregnant women. But these days, it’s considered incredibly beneficial3 since it can strengthen the mom’s body and prepare her for the delivery, while also benefitting baby’s development. That said, too much weight is bad! If your client can’t lift her weight without, say, holding her breath or tensing up so much she loses her balance, then it’s too much weight. Rather switch down to a lower weight, but do more reps.
Brief and de-brief every day
Check in with your pregnant client each time you see her, before the workout. Ask her how she’s feeling, whether she has any aches or pains, how she slept, what she’s eating and how energetic she feels. This way, you’ll know if she’s feeling more tired than usual, or if her pelvis is aching and you need to change some elements of the workout. Make sure to de-brief at the end of the workout too, to make sure she feels well.