With the stigma around exercising while being pregnant is slowly diminishing with More and more research shows that exercising while pregnant (after seeking medical clearance) results in shorter labors, fewer cases of women needing emergency Caesareans and quicker recovery post birth. At the same time the number of trainers and gyms offering training packages in this space has also grown exponentially.
But wait you shouldn’t jump on the train and just go to the internet or gym to go get your own workout!
What trainer’s should know
Trainers need to have an understanding of estrogen, nutrition and programming for pregnancy, as well as being able to adapt sessions to accommodate the very specific changes that occur to the body of a woman both before and after childbirth.
Brisbane personal trainer Marley McDonogh started training with pregnant clients about five years ago and to date has assisted over 27 women during their pre and post pregnancy training schedule. He has spent a lot of his own time and money in studying and training in this field over the years.
Marley says there is much more awareness and acceptance of the benefits of training while pregnant, but there are more who also profess to be able to work in this field of expertise with no qualifications.
“I don’t believe my peers deliberately set out to potentially cause harm to their clients, however I do think it comes down to a genuine lack of awareness of the risks associated with training a pregnant woman without proper education and training,” he says.
“Although the benefits of exercise outweigh the risk, the wrong exercise prescription may cause harm to the pregnant woman and/or her child. Exercise professionals should be aware of all the changes in physiology that will take place during pregnancy and program according to these changes as the individual’s needs develop.
Pregnancy is not a limitation
“In my industry I found being pre/post-natal certified was rare, especially for male PTs. I wanted to be able to help any woman who approached me and not feel like it was impossible because she may be pregnant.
“I don’t want women to think pregnancy is a limitation or a disadvantage when it comes to their health and fitness but rather that their pregnancy can be eased or helped if they continue or do the correct training and accessory work.”
While I think some responsibility needs to lie with women to do their own research, in conjunction with their doctor, there also needs to be some industry standard for those who market themselves as experts in this field.
Difference in Needs
Marley says the main problem he deals with is that no two pregnant women or their needs are the same.
“There aren’t any exact rules or structure for every person,” he says.
“All training should be assessed ongoing by a qualified professional. General things to avoid after the first trimester are plyometric/jumping/explosive movements, anything that requires great concentration to balance (unless that is the intent), overhead pressing of substantial weight or loads, positioning yourself in the supine position (lying on your back), abdominal crunches or heavy core work, increasing your heart rate/body temperature substantially or exerting yourself too much.
“These are blanket statements and generalizations of the average pregnancy and should be altered and structured to each woman and pregnancy on an individual basis by an experienced professional.
“Again, I can’t stress enough the importance of being coached by someone who not only cares about your health, but that of your child/children and is educated and experienced in this area.”