Pregnancy is an amazing experience, but it can also be a time for nerves and the question ‘what if’ is often referred to during this time. There are many misconceptions regarding exercise during pregnancy and it is fantastic to see that research has been focused on this area and it is becoming encouraged by medical professionals rather than dissuaded. Though understandably, even those with previous experience in an active lifestyle are nervous about what exercises to partake in during this time. The answer to this is very much dependent on the individual, their lifestyle, goals and of course taking into account the physiological and biomechanical changes during the pre and post-natal period. These changes affect everyone differently, and there is no right or wrong way. However, regular exercise during these periods can provide benefits both physically and psychologically. It is important to discuss this with a personal trainer who specialises in this area to ensure that the activities are based on the individual and this also needs to be amended during different stages of pregnancy to ensure continued support as the body and mind continues to adapt throughout.
I am a mother of three children myself – I have experienced two natural births and one caesarean. Both of which require different post-natal guidance and support for recovery and return to physical activity. When we talk about post-natal, often we are referring to the 6-8 week period post birth, however I have a teenage son and I would consider the effects of child birth to continue well beyond this point – in particular when we think about the pelvic floor and mental health. Though everyone’s pre- and post-natal journeys are different – I hope that my experiences and knowledge in this area can provide some comfort and support to mothers through the pre and post-natal period and well beyond.
Pre-Natal Personal Training
- Initial consultation: Pre and Postnatal Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire. Discussion of previous experiences in physical activity – it is absolutely not necessary, and every activity can be amended whether you are a complete beginner or other. Current and previous medical history and health status and risk analysis. Likes/dislikes. Thoughts, feelings, and questions – I try to ensure you feel comfortable, this is a very personal experience.
- Dependent on experience – sessions will be thoroughly planned, taking into consideration all of the above and sometimes this means making amendments on the day.
- Areas of particular focus are on functional movements which are designed to support the body throughout pregnancy and beyond (e.g. deadlifts strengthen the posterior chain. Pregnancy puts a lot of pressure on the posterior chain, particularly the back. But also, post birth involves a lot of lifting and bending, posture tends to change and therefore strengthening the back has functional qualities.)
- Consultation throughout different stages of pregnancy – every session involves slight adjustments depending on how you are feeling on that day, but it is also important to make amendments as you go on into the second and third trimester and of course closer to your due date.
- Observation and management of abdominal separation (Diastatis Recti).
- Nutrition – Pregnancy is not a time for weight loss or strict diet but more focused on supplying the greatest quality nutrients to mother and baby and of course ensuring you have fuel to take part in physical activity. During the consultation and throughout pregnancy and beyond I also offer nutritional support for mother.
- Mental Health – This is a huge topic during both the pre and postnatal period, my support does not stop at exercise. I specialise in Mental Health and Fitness as well, but more than this, I have experienced loss and also suffered with post-natal depression. It might sound cliché, but taking part in physical activity, no matter how limiting it got, really supported me in getting through it. Sometimes the social aspect of taking part in physical activity is enough too.
Post-Natal Personal Training
- Ensure you are signed off by a medical profession as fit to return/start physical activity.
- Consultation regarding medical history as above – more focused on labour and recovery.
- Set some realistic goals, focussing on the achievable. I always find it better to set short term goals during this period as the body adjusts post birth.
- Nutrition – this is a time for recovery – of course more focus can be on things like weight loss and strengthening but this should be considered carefully and appropriately whilst the body adapts.
- Pelvic Floor – if you’ve never had a ‘mummy MOT’ I would absolutely recommend this prior to taking part in physical activity post birth. The specialists are absolutely fantastic and it will really support you as an individual getting back into training. Pelvic floor exercises are a key focus during the recovery phase to any strength training.
- Mental Health – as above – the support does not end at kegel exercises. You have a baby, or maybe even numerous – adapting to this life can be challenging and it’s absolutely normal to feel this way. Taking part in physical activity post birth not only supports recovery physically but also supports a healthy and happy mind.
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If you would like to reach out for a free consultation, please get in touch. I absolutely love working with parents to support them through this journey.