So when I first decided to become a Personal Trainer it was purely because I had just had a baby and had been motivated by the weight loss that I had after my first baby, and how good I was feeling, it was also something I felt I could do to help other mums feel good about themselves. I thought this would be a piece of piss. So while at the end of my Maternity leave from the Navy I undertook my Personal Training course, (which covered nothing to do with pre or post natal fitness) and then we relocated to Rotorua. I then started training mums the way I had trained after I had my daughter, I did a quick online course on Pre/Post Natal fitness and off I went. The online course covered basics but really didn't go into detail about a lot of things I have since found out. I feel terrible about some of the exercises that I was giving at the time, but now I know better, I have learned a lot over the last 4 years.
I am saddened that our PT courses don't cover bigger modules on working with woman and Pre and post natal considerations, because once you have a baby you are post natal for life, while you may have recovered there are things that can happen later down the track that are related to the load put on the core or pelvic floor. I think everyone training this population should understand what happens to a woman during pregnancy and afterwards and during menopause and how people can take varying times to recover, and also that woman should be safe that their trainer is trained in training pregnancy or post natal fitness or basic woman's health in general.
Woman are often seen as an easy target market within the fitness industry, I remember on my course when asked by the instructor what our target market would be the majority of the answers were woman, purely because of a woman's drive to lose weight and some of these Trainers to be were young males of around 18 years old. I ask you, how many of you would feel comfortable telling your 18 year old buff male trainer that you leaked when you sneezed? Or when he made you do those star jumps or box jumps, Or that you had complications with your birth and that you had pain during sex, pretty sure no one or not many of you, and thats if any of them pre screened you for pelvic floor problems anyway. I get told a lot of very personal information, that I am not sure that a young Male PT graduate would really comfortable with.
Over the years the fitness industry has focused on targeting people at their most vulnerable, and often that is right after you have had a baby and feeling less than your best, and we often think man I need to get back into my pre pregnancy clothes ASAP. But you have just created a baby and brought that baby earth side, which is a totally amazing accomplishment and you should be patting yourself on the back for making it out alive and semi intact. While the recommendation is 6 weeks post 'totally natural no intervention' delivery and 12 weeks with C-section or complications before you jump back into exercise, everybody is different and so is every recovery, and thats mentally as well. And by jump we don't mean smash yourself, you should be walking during this time and building yourself up gradually as well as carrying out Pelvic Floor exercises and getting clearance from LMC and Doctor/Surgeon. (A C-Section is a very serious surgery, so recovery should be taken seriously as well as rehab). Mental health also comes into play with this, making sure you are functioning mentally helps you focus on your post natal goals, but having those goals will also help your mental heath, and getting into exercise greatly helps with post natal depression.
I see online programmes that target mums to buy and on sell these 'amazing' products, to drop the weight and I also see exercise programs that put major pressure on the core and pelvic floor, I see people advertising these classes or nutritional products and I think are you professionally trained to deal with this population of woman? And how well are you trained, are you aware that you need to screen for Pelvic floor issues, you need to check for Diastases Recti and you definitely need to prescribe exercises/alternatives to those that suffer any of those conditions, also making sure if the person had any intervention such as surgery during the delivery or post delivery and how well they have recovered because if you don't know about these you risk making the problem worse, as well as recommending that the client seeks the advise of a Woman's Health Physiotherapist. While I am not an expert I like to think that in the 4 years that I have been training mums I have learned so much more about woman's health than I thought I ever would, I have also changed the way I train my ladies and a lot of that is because I have built a great friendship with other trainers that are also interested in the same population and I can get great advice from these trainers.
Post Natal mums should not been seen as easy money making market, they should be something that interests the trainer and something that the trainer is constantly up skilling themselves on, because in the 4 years I have been learning about this a lot has changed, and there are lots of different courses out there but not all are created equal. A win for a post natal trainer is not just about having a mum fit her pre natal jeans, its also about her saying that she sneezed the other day and didn't leak, or that it was getting easier to lift her growing baby up off the ground and that she is feeling energetic and happier within herself.
So do your homework, ask your trainer what their qualifications are, if they are trained in post natal exercise (and pregnancy exercise if you are currently Hapu) Just because a trainer has had a child does not automatically make them qualified for training pre or post natal woman, and they should be screening you for a health history including a Diastases Recti test.
How you treat your body after having a baby can have a lasting affect on how your body goes leading into menopause, leaking pee when you are 23 will get worse as you hit 53. You only get one shot at it so ladies do your homework, ask your trainer what they know, and tell them if you are uncomfortable, they should be referring you or giving you a more pelvic floor/core friendly alternative.
Trainers training woman make sure you are trained to train pre or post natal fitness, it is a lot more complicated as it seems and if you were to do a Burrell course you would see that there is sooooooo much more involved that the basic online courses. And if it is out of your scope of practice never be afraid to refer on. A guest speaker at a recent professional development day recently was questioned about his qualifications, after stating his professional quals he stated he has gained the most education from life, he has continuously learned from extra courses and general life teachings, we should always be open to learning more.
My interest isn't in training body builders, or models, my interest is in woman's fitness and mums and there will be lots of more learning to come.
So share away to get my message out there, knowledge is power ladies.