If you’ve got a pregnant client, congratulations! It’s an honor to walk alongside someone as their body changes during this incredible life event. Education about the contraindications and cautions for pregnancy is crucial for safety. The way you communicate with her is equally as important.
Some pregnant women experience heightened sensitivity and emotions from the hormone changes that happen. The woman you’ve been working with for many months or years might display attitude changes and this is completely normal. Supporting her through this time can be tricky in some cases. Here are comments to avoid and suggestions for re-phrasing.
What not to say to your pregnant client
“You got bigger since last week!”
If your client is interested in keeping track of her weight, familiarize yourself with pregnancy growth charts. It’s often slow and steady through the 1st two trimesters and more rapid during the 3rd, but every woman is different. Help keep her feeling good about herself by reminding her of what normal weight gain is and where it comes from. The placenta, water weight and baby make up more than 50% of the extra pounds. The rest comes from fat and muscle mass in the lower body.
“You can’t do this exercise.”
It’s true, there are restrictions for pregnancy. No supine exercise after the 1st trimester, avoid excessive intensity, don’t add new challenges in. In any case, focus on what she CAN DO and highlight that side of it. It’s smart to inform her of what to avoid when she’s working out on her own, but there’s no need to constantly remind her of her limitations.
“How are you feeling?”
It seems innocent enough. It’s the #1 question people ask pregnant women. It’s also open-ended. In other words, it’s vague. There are better, more specific questions you can ask to get pertinent information for your training session and make her feel like you understand her better. Keep reading…
What to say to your pregnant client
What not to say is half the equation. Knowing what to say is the other piece to consider. These questions are great to ask all of your clients, but especially when working with someone through pregnancy.
“What’s your energy level today on a scale of 1-10?”
This is a question with a goal. You can use the 1-10 scale to ask her about difficulty and perceived effort as well.
“Did you have discomfort in any specific areas after our last session?”
Changes are constant during pregnancy. As her body gains weight, certain muscles have to work harder to support it. Brush up on your biomechanics and consider what the extra anterior weight does to the body. Some common areas of discomfort are the lower back, hips, calves and ankles. This will shift and change as she adds weight and adjusts. It can be tricky to keep up with and address every little ache, so make sure to check in on it.
“I plan to focus on xyz today. Is there anything specific you want to work on in today’s session?”
Let her know you have a game plan, but offer her the chance to provide input. There are many things happening in her world that are outside her control. She might appreciate the inclusion. She might also not want to think about it at all, which is why it’s good to let her know you’ve got it covered.
*Remind your client to check in with her doctor about her specific exercise guidelines.
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Learn More About Exercise During Pregnancy: