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Many Mum’s after having a baby want to get back into shape and will come along to your classes or gym and want your help! It’s great that they want to get back into shape, but they need to do it in a safe and effective manner; therefore, you need to ensure you ask these 5 fundamental questions before training a post-natal client.
- 1) How long ago did the client have their baby?
Prior to exercise, post-natal clients are required to be given the all clear to participate in exercise by a health professional after their 6-8 week check-up. Gentle exercises such as walking or pelvic floor exercises are safe for post-natal clients to perform immediately after birth, if they haven’t had any complications. However, getting back into full physical activity requires a safe gradual return to their previous fitness levels (if they were physically active prior to pregnancy) but ONLY AFTER they have their first post-natal check-up which is generally around 6-8 weeks post birth.
- 2) Did they experience any complications during their birth?
If a client has had a Caesarean, the immediate post-natal period is extended from 0-6 weeks to approximately 0-8/12 weeks as it requires a longer recovery time to heal. With any birth there is a risk of post-natal haemorrhaging which is why it is advised they do not perform any physical activity or lifting of any heavy objects within the immediate post-natal period, whether it be 0-6 weeks or 0-8/12weeks. If a client has had any complications during their birth they need to be fully assessed and given medical clearance as their recovery time will be greater and further exercise considerations taken.
- 3) Does the client have Diastasis Recti present?
If a client presents with Diastasis Recti greater than a 2 finger width, they are recommended to only perform pelvic tilts & static contractions. Due to the separation of the recti sheaths (Diastasis Recti) they do not have the adequate strength in their abdominal muscles to support the lumbar spine therefore exercise considerations will need to be taken. If a client was to perform more than the recommended exercises while presenting Diastasis recti they are likely to limit or prolong their recovery.
- 4) Were they Physically Active before and or during their pregnancy?
Their answer will give you an understanding of their previous physical fitness level to help determine the type of exercise programme suitable to offer alongside the appropriate exercise considerations needed.
- 5) Is the client currently experiencing any discomfort?
If your client had a vaginal birth their pelvic floor will have severe bruising, or if they had a Caesarean they are likely to be experiencing abdominal pain. Post-natal clients can also experience discomfort in their breasts as a result of producing too muck milk or sore nipples if they have chosen to breast feed; these are just some of the discomforts they may be experiencing so ensure that you check with your client so that you can modify the exercises accordingly.
Enjoy working with this client group, but remember to work within your qualification boundaries.