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.
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:
If you can master these six topics, you’ll be in a fantastic position to serve your female clients really, really well.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
By taking any of the steps above, whether it’s...
… 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.
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:
Interested in learning more? Join our free, no-obligation pre-sale list.
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