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Dianne Edmonds, director and founder of The Pregnancy Centre, outlines a snappy list of 24 things to talk to your pregnant and postnatal clients about in 2024.

As a pre- and postnatal trainer, you’ll want to ensure you’re imparting really valuable nuggets of information to your clients, so they can understand what’s happening in their bodies and how they can best look after them in this special phase of life. Here are my 24 things to talk about to your pregnant and postnatal clients in 2024.

  1. “Pregnancy becomes postnatal. Whatever you train to do in your pregnancy will become an investment into your postnatal recovery.”
  2. “Your pelvic floor matters.” How many tips can you give them about their pelvic floor? Find out what they know and what else they might need to learn.
  3. “The stages of pelvic floor recovery can take time. It is a journey of awareness, retraining, and matching your pelvic floor fitness to the level of training you are doing. Each step matters.”
  4. “Your abdominal muscle wall will lengthen, stretch and ‘give’ to allow room for expansion as your baby or babies grow. No matter what your level of fitness is, this will happen. Postnatal recovery of the abdominal muscle wall after pregnancy takes time too.”
  5. “High-impact exercise postnatally is not recommended until a minimum of three to four months after the birth.” This is according to the International Postnatal Return to Running Guidelines developed by three UK-based physiotherapists in 2019, with international collaboration. Learning about this concept in pregnancy can help you set up your client for realistic expectations postnatally.
  6. “The sooner you start with some basics postnatally, like postnatal abdominal bracing, reconnecting with your pelvic floor and back mobility exercises, the sooner you are investing back into your recovering body.”
  7. “Some women take longer to recover from birth than others.” There are many factors involved in this, so consider that each woman is an individual. Help them to understand it is their unique journey and to set a pace that suits their body.
  8. “Rest is important both during and after pregnancy. Horizontal rest gives your body a break from gravity.”
  9. “If you feel your back ache, then listen to your body. What do you need? Is it a rest, a lie down, a stretch, a massage, a hot pack, a bath or a shower? Or do you need some help with the housework or to go out for a walk?”
  10. “Breathing as a focus during your training is a helpful tool that can be taken in to use during the birthing process.” Breathing out during the first stage of labour and having breath awareness for when to push effectively (there is more to learn about this) can come more easily when your client has tuned into her breathing patterns during pregnancy.
  11. “Breathing out as a focus is also a helpful tool postnatally, to settle you before you settle your baby or to use before a feed to calm your nervous system, before tuning into your baby.”
  12. “Listening to your body during this season is ‘different’ because the journey is new. Times to ‘push through’ are not the same as when you are not pregnant or on the postnatal recovery journey. Listen to your body, especially to ‘warning signs’ that can need attention.”
  13. “In pregnancy, your pelvic floor needs to relax and release, as well as lift and contract. Both are areas to become more aware of as you journey through the trimesters.”
  14. “Modifying exercises during pregnancy also means adapting to your changing body. Think about the process that is going on inside with your baby or babies growing. This is why your posture changes, your belly expands and your back needs specific pregnancy mobility exercises.”
  15. “Taking time to tune into your breath can be done in different positions, while you are sitting, stretching, standing, lying or leaning over a ball. Feel the different parts of your ribs expanding in different positions.” Tuning into the in breath and the out breath in different ways can be explored.
  16. “Doing the standing posture wall check, where you feel your back against the wall and notice the amount of space in your lower back, is an investment during pregnancy and postnatally. Feel your natural curve and notice it when you are tired; does this increase a lot?”
  17. “Shoulder rolls in a backwards direction are a simple way to break up the leaning forwards pattern that comes with motherhood duties, as are opening stretches such as clasping your hands behind your back or doing a pec stretch using a door frame. Connecting to these regularly can tune you into using them when you are more tired in the early postnatal months.”
  18. “Adjusting to motherhood takes time and is a continual learning process.” Having the support of you, their trainer, is an ongoing investment in their fitness journey.
  19. “Ask for help and advice when you are unsure. There are many questions that arise and, when it is to do with your fitness and health, finding the information from a trustworthy source reassures you more quickly.” If she is unsure, she should ask her healthcare provider, as well as talking to you as her fitness professional.
  20. “Hydration is important during pregnancy and afterwards. Plan to have a few water bottles around the house when you are postnatal so that you can access them when you need them. Ask your partner or a family member to fill them up for you as a favour if they are available.”
  21. “Ask for the support that you need as much as you can. Each area that you get help with helps you to focus more on what matters most at the time and season that you are in. Remember, this is a journey and new things arise along the way.”
  22. “Training in different positions during your pregnancy, including on your hands and knees, and using a ball to sit on or lean over, also helps with optimal foetal positioning, and becoming comfortable and flexible to move into different positions during the birthing process.”
  23. “Stretches to prepare to mentally focus on tuning in can be included in the later stages of your pregnancy to help to prepare you for labour and birth.”
  24. “Early postnatal recovery is important. Have a basic plan to start with for the first six to eight weeks, before returning to the gym or personal training.” This is something you can plan together in the last months of your client’s pregnancy to help them to prepare for the changes ahead, for their body and in the journey of parenthood.

Ready to learn more with Dianne? Check out her Early Postnatal Programming online CPD education now.

About the Author

Dianne Edmonds

Pregnancy, postnatal and pelvic floor fitness

Dianne Edmonds is an Australian physiotherapist with over 30 years of experience with pregnancy, postnatal and pelvic floor education, treatment and fitness programs. She contributed to the development of the AusActive Pregnancy and Postnatal Exercise Guidelines as a member of the expert reference group. Dianne was the lead physiotherapist and project officer for the Pelvic Floor First project campaign, run by the Continence Foundation of Australia and is a Pelvic Floor First Ambassador. Dianne is the Director and founder of The Pregnancy Centre, and hosts The Running to the Core Podcast, which explores areas affecting women’s return to fitness and running postnatally. She currently works in an Obstetric GP practice in Mandurah, Western Australia.

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