What To Look For From A Postnatally Trained Coach

By Ange
We love working with postpartum women.

Seriously, how remarkable is the human body!

A woman’s body goes through significant physiological and psychological changes during pregnancy, labor and delivery. Unfortunately, in returning back to physical exercise many trainers  and even new mums, overlook how these change, underlying dysfunction, potential birth trauma and fail to take a longer term view to set our a clear path of rehab, recovery and even build a stronger body post-pregnancy.

We get it! For many new mums, they are keen to feel back in their bodies as soon as possible and for some that means exercise is on the top of their priority list.

In this blog, we want to share our top three tips to help new mums find a great training facility to guide their return to exercise journey safely.

1. Before You Begin: Seek Medical Clearance

A pre and postnatally qualified trainer should insist on that you have receive the important all clear from your doctor. This check up typically occurs around the 6 week mark postpartum. Regardless of delivery mode, in the early week postpartum there is still a significant amount of healing and recovery that is still occurring. So instead of focusing on ‘physical activity’, take the time to focus on important foundational work instead, which includes breathing techniques, gentle bodyweight movements and appropriate pelvic floor exercises.
2. Postpartum Screen

After being cleared to return to exercise, your trainer should perform an in-depth  postpartum screening process.  This important step, should help your trainer gather important information and could also help raise your attention any conditioning where a referral to another health care provider should be encouraged. Examples of what’s not normal include, but are not limited to:

  • Bleeding or passing clots past six weeks postpartum
  • Pelvic or back pain
  • Urinary or fecal incontinence
  • Downward pressure or heaviness in the pelvis
  • Protruding tissues around the vagina

Included in this screening process, should also be a form of standing and movement screen. During pregnancy and the immediate postnatal period, the increase in weight through the anterior part of the body may result in postural changes. Coupled with an increase in breast tissue size and changes in repeated movement patterns (such as feeding, carrying, etc), a mums body can quite easily be out of alignment.  Having these issue identified early will ultimately promote the healing process, reduced pain, better movement and activation of some deeper muscle groups.

A functional movement screen should also help your trainer foresee potential issues at the outset so that a program can be tailor to your needs.

3. Diastasis Recti Assessment 
During pregnancy, the abdomen expands and the linea alba stretches.  This is considered to be a normal response to accommodate the developing baby. An assessment of the abdomen is quick and simple assessment that a qualified pre and postnatal trainer should be able to perform. This assessment of the tension and gap should guide the direction of future training and need for future monitoring.
After the assessment, the trainer should be able to provide run down of what to expect from training initially and start to develop out a plan. Everyone’s return to exercise program will look different. It is important that individual difference are taken into account when working with clients with different needs.
It is really important that every women who is returning back to exercise after having a baby starts slowly! Be patient and consistent. Even training 2-3 times per week will be enough to see and feel the body getting stronger. Know some red flags too. If a trainer includes running, burpees, lunges, abdominal flexing or even planks in a workout for a newly postpartum women, these are all clear signs that their level of experience or qualifications might not be up to scratch.
If you would like more information on a safe return to exercise, reach our to 23w.com.au to chat about our popular Mums one the Move Program. 

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Our founder

Ange Drake is an personal trainer, women’s empowerment coach and fitness blogger in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. She is the director of one of the few womens’ only strength training gyms in Melbourne, 23W. Ange helps women to learn how to use strength based training, nutritional strategies and a positive mindset to transform their bodies, relationship with food and mind.

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