Staying fit during and after pregnancy is an important part of that whole “giving birth” thing. Regular exercise during pregnancy can help reduce the risk of gestational diabetes as well as the potential you’ll need a C-section, while also mitigating some of the more uncomfortable aspects of growing a tiny human, such as backaches and constipation.
For the most part, low-impact exercises such as walking and swimming are considered safe for pretty much everyone during pregnancy, even people who weren’t previously active. It’s also generally considered safe for people to continue whatever exercise program they were doing before getting pregnant, as long as they feel comfortable doing so and don’t exceed a moderate intensity.
However, certain types of exercise, such as strength training, need to be adapted to factor in the ever-changing limitations of pregnancy, but doing so can be confusing. One option help you plan a safe, effective prenatal and postpartum routines is to find a personal trainer who is trained in working with pregnant clients.
If you are considering going this route, here are a few guidelines for finding and choosing a trainer.
Get your doctor’s sign-off first
First and foremost, you need to talk to your doctor about any potential exercise program that you are hoping to do during pregnancy. Some conditions, such as certain types of heart and lung issues, as well as being pregnant with twins or triplets with risk factors for preterm labour, mean that some exercises won’t be safe.
For the majority of patients, many exercise routines will be considered safe, although your doctor may have some specific recommendations and/or restrictions based on your own medical history. And if you do have certain restrictions, you will need to discuss them with your fitness trainer to ensure they have the skillset and knowledge base to work with your situation.
Some exercise programs are designed to prepare you for childbirth and early parenthood
A number of prenatal and postpartum fitness programs are based on the concept of preparing your body to handle the stresses of pregnancy, childbirth, and early parenthood.
One of the programs, called BirthFit, operates on a concept of ‘pre-habbing’ a pregnant client, with the intention of strengthening them to be better equipped to handle childbirth. BirthFit’s postpartum fitness program, meanwhile, focuses on helping you handle the physical rigors of parenting after giving birth.
Another program, called PROnatal, employs what they call labour intensity interval training, which is meant to mimic the cycles of active labour, with a short period of intense work followed by a short interval of active rest, including breathing exercises.
There are a number of other prenatal and postpartum training certifications out there. Some are more rigorous than others. Your best bet is to ask a potential trainer about how they would approach your prenatal and postpartum fitness training, and to ask about their level of experience with pregnant clients.
Given that this is a more specialised area of expertise, ask how they adapted their recommendations to fit the differing needs of past pregnant clients. Depending on your particular needs and preferences, you can also opt for virtual training sessions, which can be helpful if you live in an area without the specialised trainer you need.
Find someone you work well with
When searching for a trainer at this delicate time in your life, don’t discount your personal comfort. During my own pregnancy, I chose to continue working with my current coach. Although his experience working with pregnant clients was very limited, by that point, he’d been training me for four years, had a good sense of my fitness background, and we already had a good rapport.
The goal is always to have a trainer you feel comfortable working with; this is doubly true during pregnancy and the postpartum period, given how quickly your body is changing. There are going to be days when you have energy and days when you don’t, and your comfort level for certain activities is undoubtedly going to change over time. Dealing with all of this rapid change requires a fitness trainer who is adaptable and communicative.