Are You Ready to Coach Pregnant Women? Take the Quiz!

6 Absolutely Essential Topics to Master When Working with Clients Who Are Pregnant
By Marika Hart, PT

In the fitness world, coaching and training pregnant and postpartum women is often considered a niche market.

Granted, it does take a special set of skills to safely coach women who are pregnant or postpartum, but...

Did you know that more than 85 percent of women will have children at some point in their lives? 

That means among your female clients, almost 9 out of 10 will either become pregnant, be pregnant, or be postpartum. When you look at it this way, that’s not such a niche market, is it?

So if you’re working with women, it only makes sense to know exactly how to work safely and effectively with pregnant and postpartum clients.

(While we’re only going to discuss — and quiz you on! — pregnancy here, you can test your knowledge about the postpartum period here.)

Let’s get started with an overview of the top pregnancy-specific health and fitness topics we’ll be quizzing you on.

6 Pregnancy Topics Coaches and Trainers Need to Master

There are six key areas that every health and fitness professional should know about in order to help keep their clients safe and healthy while training during pregnancy:

  1. Anatomical and physiological changes during pregnancy
  2. Musculoskeletal concerns during pregnancy
  3. Exercise modifications during pregnancy
  4. Nutrition considerations during pregnancy
  5. Prenatal coaching and psychology
  6. Leadership and professionalism

If you can master these six topics, you’ll be in a fantastic position to serve your female clients really, really well.

Here’s why.

Anatomical and Physiological Changes During Pregnancy

When a woman becomes pregnant, her body begins making huge changes to allow for the growth and development of the baby while maintaining her own health. Early on, this primarily presents as hormonal and metabolic shifts, but as her pregnancy progresses and the fetus grows, she may also begin to see changes in her:

  • Weight
  • Posture
  • Breast size
  • Pelvic floor
  • Abdominal wall, with a primary expansion at the linea alba
  • Respiratory system (e.g., breathing more deeply)
  • Cardiovascular system (e.g., an increase in resting heart rate)

While this is not by any means an exhaustive list, these changes can, in turn, affect things like balance and aerobic capacity and may cause incontinence, aches and pains, nausea, or other symptoms. Obviously, there are some major implications for exercise and training here!

Knowing how to work with or around these anatomical and physiological changes will set you apart from other trainers. And not only that, it will give you the tools you need to help accommodate your client's changing body (such as a softening of her fascia and connective tissue resulting from hormonal changes) while helping her feel strong and powerful.

Musculoskeletal Concerns During Pregnancy

While diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal conditions are beyond the scope of practice for a coach, being aware of the signs and symptoms of common pregnancy-related issues is vital for a health and fitness professional.

Just to scratch the surface, conditions coaches and trainers should be familiar with — and understand exercise implications for — include:

If you’re able to recognize these issues, not only will you be able to refer your client to the appropriate professional, but you’ll also be able to take her condition into account and adapt her programming as needed — both of which can help increase the likelihood of a positive outcome for your client.

Exercise Modifications During Pregnancy

As your client’s pregnancy progresses, you will need to implement the proper modifications to her exercise program. While many seem to believe that “You’re safe to continue doing xyz as long as you were doing it before pregnancy,” this piece of advice is actually inaccurate and doesn’t convey the many factors that can impact exercise during pregnancy.

Being aware of the different considerations that inform exercise modifications during pregnancy can help you support your client in a way that will keep her both active and safe while still giving her a bit of a challenge.

Nutrition Considerations During Pregnancy

Now that she’s pregnant, your client may be more interested in her nutrition, even if that topic was of little interest to her in the past. Not only will she hear and read conflicting — and often misguided — advice about what to eat, she’ll hear that she should be eating “x more calories” or that she’s now “eating for two.”

Plus, your client may be navigating nutritional challenges during her pregnancy, like severe food aversions, which can make it more difficult for her to achieve the type of nutrition she’s striving for. If you’re knowledgeable about this, you can help her by providing evidence-based guidance and support. You can also guide her in developing healthy and sustainable nutrition habits so she can continue eating healthfully through pregnancy and beyond.

Prenatal Coaching and Psychology

If you truly want to stand apart as a coach and help women achieve (and sustain) their health and fitness goals, then mastering both the science of psychology and the art of coaching is crucial. And when it comes to pregnancy, that means understanding the ups, downs, crossroads, challenges, joys, heartbreaks, barriers to consistency, cultural considerations, privacy concerns, and mental and physical changes that can be part of the ride.

But it’s even more than that. It’s also recognizing and being able to compassionately talk to your client (if she wants) about sensitive topics like pregnancy loss, body image struggles, mental health problems, and her overall well-being — and knowing how and where to refer her if she needs specialized help.

Leadership and Professionalism 

To provide the highest level of service and care for your pregnant clients, it is critical that you can provide them with the most up-to-date information in a way that demonstrates both your knowledge and your humanity, and be able to help your clients navigate situations while still remaining within your scope of practice.

This means not only being able to handle certain tricky conversations, but also being able to point your clients to the appropriate health professional — hopefully vetted by you — when the situation warrants it.

Taking Stock

While we just gave you a rundown of the importance of the six topics we’re going to quiz you on in just a moment, we want to say it one more time:

Developing your skills in these areas and preparing to work specifically with women through pregnancy will make a huge positive difference in the lives of your clients — and in yours as well! 

This quiz is a chance to take stock of where you’re at and ask yourself:

  • “How confident am I when coaching or training clients who are pregnant?” 
  • “Do I know everything I need to know? Or do I have some hidden gaps in my knowledge?"

It’s a simple and low-stakes way to identify the areas where your skills and knowledge are solid — and where you still have room to grow.

Quick tip: When you’re answering the questions in the quiz, be honest with yourself. Instead of being uneasy about the areas where you’re less knowledgeable, see it as an exciting opportunity to learn more! 

At the end of the quiz, you’ll find our recommendations for evidence-based resources tailored to your results.

These resources, as well as the information here, were developed by the same team of experts behind our Pre- & Postnatal Coaching Certification, a cutting-edge, comprehensive curriculum designed to teach health and fitness professionals exactly how to confidently coach pre- and postnatal women and keep them safe, healthy, and strong — both during and after pregnancy. Our experts include PhDs, pelvic health physios, pre- and postnatal fitness experts, OB/GYNs, university researchers, midwives, psychologists, doulas, and more.

Quiz Time!

Before we begin, it’s important to note that the questions in this quiz are focused solely on specific situations you may encounter or experience with your clients who are pregnant, meaning we are not testing you on the basic coaching skills that anyone working with clients should have. For example, you will not see questions about:

  • Basic coaching communication and listening skills
  • General anatomy and physiology
  • Building rapport and trust with your clients
  • Aerobic capacity, blood pressure, or fat distribution
  • Helping clients set behavior-based goals
  • Or many, many more essential coaching skills

Rather, you will see questions on the pregnancy-specific topics you read about a moment ago. Please note, though, that not every question will be relevant to every woman, as there are variations in experience and in anatomy.

For each of the questions, give an honest assessment of your knowledge on a scale of 0–5, where 0 means you know nothing about the topic, and 5 means you’re an expert.

Coach Pregnancy Quiz

Topic #1: Anatomical & Physiological Changes During Pregnancy

Your client explains that she’s concerned about diastasis recti in pregnancy, and asks if there’s anything she can do to prevent it. How well-equipped are you to discuss this topic with her?
Not at all equippedTotally prepared
After a set of squats, your client tells you that she feels particularly winded, and wonders if it’s something she should be worried about. How well versed are you about the changes to a woman’s respiratory system during pregnancy and what it means for your client in terms of exercise?
I don’t knowI got this
Your client tells you that she’s been feeling more clumsy now that she’s entered her third trimester, although she’s struggling to understand why. How much do you know about postural changes during pregnancy and how they can affect your client’s balance?
Not muchI know all about it
Your client is in her second trimester of pregnancy and has gained about 20 pounds so far. She’s heard conflicting advice about weight gain in pregnancy and wonders what’s “normal” and what’s not. How prepared are you to discuss this with her?
I'm notI'm an expert

Total for this section 0/20

Topic #2: Musculoskeletal Concerns During Pregnancy

Your client shows up with what seems like carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms. Do you know how to properly handle the situation?
One of your clients is in her third trimester of pregnancy, and complains that her back has been hurting a lot. How knowledgeable are you about suggesting exercises that may help alleviate back pain during pregnancy?
Not at allI'm an expert
One of your clients has been complaining of a sharp pain in her groin during your sessions together. Do you know what steps to take to address the situation?
I’m not sureYes, I’m on it!
After a set of squats, your client complains of some discomfort, and you ask her to describe exactly what she’s feeling. As she’s describing her symptoms, are you able to identify which ones could be potential signs of pelvic organ prolapse?

Total for this section 0/20

Topic #3: Exercise Modifications During Pregnancy

One of your regular clients has just become pregnant for the third time. She asks you what this means for her strength training program. How confident are you in answering her question right away?
Not confident at allI’m on top of it!
One of your bootcamp clients has expressed her desire to keep taking your class even though she’s pregnant. How comfortable are you providing her with the proper modifications?
Totally uncomfortableI got this
A new client wants to start working with you. During your initial meeting, she mentions that she’s just beginning her second trimester of pregnancy. How knowledgeable are you about the considerations to keep in mind when creating her exercise program?
I have no clueI’m an expert!
Your client tells you that while she enjoys her exercise sessions with you, her partner is worried that she “may be overdoing it.” How confident are you about the level of exertion that’s appropriate and safe for your pregnant client during her cardiovascular workouts?
I'm unsureSuper confident
One of your clients is in her third trimester and wants to know which exercises she should be avoiding and why. Do you know what to tell her, and how to explain your answer?
I don't knowI know all about it
Your newly pregnant client, who used to train four times a week before pregnancy, comes to you wondering how her pregnancy will affect her workout schedule in the months to come. Do you understand the implications of pregnancy when it comes to exercise frequency?
There are implications?I understand it all!
Your client is an avid runner, and she approaches you to ask if it’s safe for her to keep running — it’s her first pregnancy and she’s unsure of what she’s “allowed” to do. How confident are you in answering her?
Not comfortableI've got it covered!

Total for this section 0/35

Topic #4: Nutrition Considerations During Pregnancy

One of your clients tells you she’s been struggling with food choices since she became pregnant, as many of the things she used to eat are no longer palatable to her. Are you aware of the tips you can give your client, while staying in your scope of practice, to help her manage her food aversions during pregnancy?
I don't know what to sayYes, totally
Your client wants to know what you think of the whole “eating for two” idea. How much do you know about how to help women adjust their calories during pregnancy?
No idea!I'm an expert!
Do you know which tips you can give your client to help her keep up a sufficient water intake during pregnancy?
I'm not sureYes!
Your client asks if you can help her develop better eating habits now that she’s pregnant. Do you know how to teach her a habit- and skill-based approach?
I do notYes, that’s my jam!

Total for this section 0/20

Topic #5: Prenatal Coaching & Psychology

A client you’ve been training for a while confides that she just learned she’s pregnant. You can’t quite tell how she feels about the situation. Do you know how to respond?
I don’t know what to sayI’ve got this!
Your client has always been very active and wants to set some ambitious training goals for herself during pregnancy. Do you feel prepared to discuss these goals with her?
Not reallyI know what to do
Do you have a clear idea of what types of comments and information are appropriate to share — and what comments may actually be harmful — when it comes to discussing your client’s pregnant body with her?
Are there things I shouldn’t say?I’m an expert
You get a text from your client canceling her upcoming training sessions for the next two weeks. After you ask her if she’s OK, she discloses that she just experienced a miscarriage. How prepared are you to properly support this client through pregnancy loss?
Not at allI know exactly what to say
You catch your client wincing at her reflection in the mirror. She tells you that she doesn’t like how her pregnant body looks. How comfortable do you feel discussing your client’s body image struggles during pregnancy in a compassionate and non-dismissive way?
Not veryI’ve got this!
Your client admits that she’s been considering canceling her next session because she’s struggling with energy and motivation during her first trimester. How prepared are you to adjust your client’s workout according to her varying energy levels on any given day?
I'm not sureI can handle it

Total for this section 0/30

Topic #6: Leadership & Professionalism

Your client confides that she’s been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, and asks you if you can guide her in managing her condition. How confident are you handling this conversation?
I don’t know where to start100% confident
Do you know how to create a referral network of like-minded health professionals — like a pelvic health physiotherapist, a urogynecologist, and a mental health professional, just to name a few — so you can ensure your clients get the best care possible?
Wait, I need to do this?Got it covered!
Your client comes to you with a troubled look in her eyes, and confides in a low voice that she’s been “leaking” when she sneezes, and she’s worried because she doesn’t know what’s wrong with her. Her cheeks are flushed with embarrassment, and you can feel her anxiety. How comfortable are you discussing urinary incontinence during pregnancy with your client?
I don’t knowI’m a pro
How proactive are you in providing the most up-to-date, evidence-based recommendations and information to your clients when it comes to exercising during pregnancy?
I haven’t looked in a whileI’m all over it!

Total for this section 0/20

How Did You Do?

Feel like you totally rocked this quiz? That’s awesome! Not so sure how you did? No worries! That’s why GGS is here — to make sure you get the information you need to feel 100% confident in each of these scenarios.

To get a better idea of where your skills are already top-notch and where you have opportunities to continue learning and expanding your coaching skill set, click on the green button below to calculate your results. There you will find customized recommendations for which FREE articles and courses will be most useful to you.

Looking for even more detailed information and ready to take your knowledge and skills to the next level? Consider enrolling in our world-class Pre- & Postnatal Coaching Certification. You’ll learn exactly how to keep your pregnant and postpartum clients safe, healthy, and strong — and you’ll get the skills and knowledge you need to confidently and effectively coach, train, and empower women to be their strongest selves.

Remember: No matter how you scored in any of these areas, we’re here to help!

By taking any of the steps above, whether it’s...

  • Reading an article to start gaining a better understanding of different prenatal topics
  • Signing up for one of our FREE 5-day courses to learn exactly how to coach women to move and eat in a way that's safe and healthy, not only for their baby — but for them, too
  • Enrolling in our world-class Pre- and Postnatal Coaching Certification

… you’re helping raise the standard of care for women everywhere.

No matter how big or small your goals may be, you have a very real opportunity to create meaningful change in the lives of the women you work with — and the industry as a whole — and we're here to support you every step of the way.

We know that you have it in you to make the kind of difference you want to make.

Keep your pregnant and postpartum clients safe, healthy, and strong.

85% of women will have a baby at some point in their life. If you work with women, you work with pre- and postnatal women.

Whether your clients are currently pregnant or have already had their baby, they’ll have questions about everything — how to exercise safely in each trimester, which foods they should and shouldn’t eat, how to exercise the right way post-pregnancy.

And they’ll look to you for the answers.

That’s why we created our Pre- & Postnatal Coaching Certification: So current and aspiring professionals have the tools, knowledge, and confidence they need to help their pre- and postnatal clients navigate their health and fitness — both during and after pregnancy.

With the industry’s most extensive pre- and postnatal exercise, nutrition, and coaching certification available anywhere, you’ll learn exactly how to:

  • Answer your clients’ most pressing questions when they come to you for help
  • Keep your pre- and postnatal clients safe through every stage of their journey
  • Change the standard of care for women everywhere while creating a life and career you love

Interested in learning more? Join our free, no-obligation pre-sale list. 

Get all the details on how you can save up to 40% and secure your spot before the general public.

Make an impact. Build a thriving career. And join thousands of health and fitness professionals dedicated to changing the standard of care for women everywhere.

Don't miss out!

Enrollment opens August 6, 2024.

Get on the pre-sale list today to become a GGS Certified Pre- & Postnatal Coach.

We'll send you more info about the Certification, give you the chance to enroll early, and save up to $600 off the general price.

Enrollment opens only twice a year — spots are limited!

CPPC Pre-Sale (No Phone)

About the author:  Marika Hart, PT

Marika has over 17 years of experience as a physiotherapist. Following completion of her master’s degree in Manual Therapy from the University of Western Australia in 2006, she developed an interest in women’s health, and in particular the effect of exercise on health during the pre- and postnatal periods. This interest led her to create a successful business in Perth which has helped hundreds of women feel strong, knowledgeable and empowered throughout their pregnancy and beyond. Her passion to spread this information inspired Marika to create Herasphere, a fully online platform dedicated to providing high quality information related to all things pregnancy! You can also learn more about Marika and Herasphere on Facebook.

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