As an Ante/Postnatal Fitness Expert, you’ll be aware that I encourage all mums-to-be, at every stage of their pregnancy, to stay as active as possible, for as long as they can.
I know many of you who attend my Pregnancy Fitness and Pregnancy Pilates classes also do exercise elsewhere, or have perhaps attended fitness classes at the gym, had personal training sessions or take to the swimming pool once a week or so.
Today, I’m going to talk to you about the implications of attending a mainstream fitness or exercise class, whilst pregnant, and a few things you need to be aware of should you wish to continue participating in an existing session, that’s not specifically for pregnant women.
Awareness – The first thing you need to do is make your Instructor aware that you’re pregnant. In your first trimester, so that’s up to 12 weeks or so, you should be fine to carry on with your current exercise regime (fatigue pending), without modification, so it’s at around 13 weeks that you definitely, most positively need to inform your Instructor that you’re pregnant, ok? Why? Because he/she, like any other condition, needs to be kept informed of any changes to your health status. Just like if you do some DIY and feel
Qualifications – The next issue concerning participating in a regular fitness class which pregnant, is relating to your Instructor’s qualifications. It’s important that your instructor has done some training in pre and postnatal exercise, so ask them when you inform them that you’re now pregnant. Don’t assume that all gym staff/personal trainers/Pilates Instructors/aqua teachers have specialist pre/postnatal skills. Qualifying to teach pre/postnatal women is a separate, add-on and can I point out, quite intensive area of study. If your Instructor isn’t qualified to teach you, they won’t really be advise you on what’s safe and unsafe for you and your unborn baby, ok?
Insurance – When it comes to getting insurance in the fitness industry, the golden rule is: you’re only insured to teach populations you’re qualified to teach. So, leading on from the point above, if your Instructor doesn’t hold a Level 3 Ante/Postnatal qualification of some description, they will not, and I repeat, they will not be insured to teach pre or postnatal women. We all take risks in life, occasionally, but when it comes to training pregnant women (and their unborn babies), that is one time it’s not appropriate.
Modifications – Following on from points 2 and 3, you can see where I’m going here, can’t you? There are certain exercises and positions that are unsafe for pregnant women to perform/be in. If your instructor is not qualified, they’re therefore not insured to teach you, and they won’t know how to modify things for you in your exercise session. So, there’s potential for you to be put in a situation where you and your baby is at risk.
Intensity / Suitability – And finally, you do really need to ask yourself whether the session you’re attending is: a) at a comfortable intensity level for pregnant women eg are you getting out of breath and having to take regular breaks etc?, and b) suitable eg are constant modifications required throughout the session to keep it safe and effective for you (assuming the instructor is pre/postnatal trained) etc?
And there you have it, your education for the day regarding attending a general exercise class whilst pregnant. If you’re wondering what the scenario is post-birth, it’s exactly the same. So, do think very carefully before returning back to your regular fitness class and/or hitting the gym. I’ve known many a postnatal client assume that what they did prior to pregnancy was fine; they’ve gone back to the gym, overdone it, felt dreadful afterwards, and then had to seek advice from me because “something didn’t feel right”. Better to be safe than sorry, eh?
To get your hands on an easy to follow, do anytime, step-by-step guide to safe abdominal exercise, cardiovascular training, toning exercise and safe stretches, which cover all trimesters of pregnancy, click here.