An inside look into how I choose continuing education courses and my recommendations for the best pre and postnatal fitness certification courses on the market.

Photo of a pregnant personal trainer working on a laptop in her home gym

When I became pregnant with my first babe, I was the most athletic I had ever been in my life. I was running half-marathons, entering triathlons and hitting the gym several times a week.

In 2015 I became pregnant with my first child. I didn’t want to slow down just because I was having a baby. And at that time, there was very little support to guide me  through the active pregnancy I wanted to experience.

I did the best I could. And ultimately, my journey of coaching myself through pregnancy and rehabbing my complicated postpartum is what led me down the road of coaching others.

In this post, I’ll share the courses that I have found to be the most informative and actionable. I’ll also offer my perspective on how you can choose the best pre and postnatal fitness certifications for you.

The Pre and Postnatal Coaching Revolution

Since 2015 (my first pregnancy), there’s been an absolute revolution in the pregnancy and postpartum fitness space.

Today, there are COUNTLESS certification courses to teach fitness professionals how to work with pre and postnatal clients.

There are thousands of certified personal trainers and certified group fitness instructors who carry a pre and postnatal fitness qualification.

And for better or worse, the internet is packed to the gills with pregnancy and postpartum fitness information (of varying degrees of credibility).

In 2018, I hung my shingle as a pregnancy and postpartum personal trainer. At the time, my choices for continuing education were limited but there was a lot brewing behind the scenes.

That’s no longer the case- in fact, I’d be hard pressed to create a comprehensive list of every single certification on the market.

A Very Recent History Of Pre/Postnatal Fitness Coaching

To highlight how just how recently prenatal and postpartum fitness education has been available, I want to offer a quick timeline of the courses I’ll spotlight in this post: 2016: Jessie Mundell launched the Postnatal Fitness Specialists Academy (PFSA) 2017: Brianna Battles launched the Pregnancy and Postpartum Athleticism (PPA) coaching certification. 2018: Girls Gone Strong released the Certified Pre and Postnatal Coach (CPPC) certification course. 2018: Sarah Duvall launched the first iteration of the Prenatal Corrective Exercise Specialist (PCES) curriculum (re-vamped in 2021 as the Pregnancy and Postpartum Corrective Exercise Specialist certification). These courses weren’t neccesarily the first to address female core and pelvic health and exercise. Bellies Inc (courses now owned and operated by Kim Vopni “The Vagina Coach”) and Jenny Burrell (Burrell Education) were pioneering peer to peer education around women’s health in the years preceding these courses. But these, as far as I know, were among the first that specifically honed in on the pre- and postnatal experience and did so through a core and pelvic floor-informed lens. Today? There is an abundance of choice but not all those choices are equally good. As a continuing education junkie, I’ve taken a lot of pre post natal specialist courses. Some have been outstanding and some were outrageously bad. My goal here is not to call out bad courses, but rather to call out and highlight the courses that I have found to be robust, evidence-based, and full of actionable content.

Do I Really Need A Special Certification To Coach Pre- And Postnatal Clients?

If you’re a fitness professional who works with woman or anyone assigned female at birth, you need prenatal and postnatal specialist education. 85% of women will become pregnant in their lifetime, and so if you’re working with female clients, you need to know how to navigate these chapters.

Don’t assume that just because YOU may have navigated a “fit” pregnancy or an easy postpartum recovery that you can support others.

Your own experience does not provide the depth or breadth of experience to accommodate all of the individual scenarios you will encounter.

Do I Need To Be A Certified Personal Trainer To Take These Certification Courses?

Most of these courses don’t have a pre-requisite, but if you are training clients you should have be a certified personal trainer or certified group fitness instructor. This provides an educational foundation that the specialist courses assume you have and will build upon.

You’ll also need to be a certified personal trainer, certified group fitness instructor, physical therapist etc. to qualify for professional liability insurance.

How Do I Choose A Coaching Certification?

Here are a few of the questions I consider when choosing a continuing education course:

Is it evidence-based?

Choose a certification that bases its recommendations on science and gold-standard practices.

The certifications that I recommend here frequently cite their sources and recommend practices that align with gold-standard rehabilitation practices.

Who created it? Who instructs it?

Is the person who created the certification truly an expert in their field?

Where did they gain their expertise?

Do they continue to work with pregnant and postpartum clients?

Do they draw in subject-area experts to teach topics outside of their scope of practice or expertise?

How robust is it?

You won’t learn everything you need to learn in a weekend course. For a high-quality course, think of it like a college course: Expect to immerse yourself in the material for several weeks to months depending on how many hours you can study each week.

How frequently is it updated?

I recommend consuming a course that is updated no less than every 2 years.

What’s your learning style?

While all of these certifications are online courses, they use a variety of delivery modes.

Some rely more heavily on written material while others are 100% video. It’s a matter of personal preference, just make sure you know the format before you sign up.

Do you need accountability and support?

Various courses are available as self-study (i.e. DIY) or as a guided cohort (you have live support and accountability). What do you need to be successful?

Will the course provide you with a professional network?

I can’t emphasize the value of a robust and active professional network. As I detail in the specific course reviews below, a large and engaged Facebook community is worth its weight in gold.

Specific to pre/postnatal certifications:

Is it pelvic floor and core informed? Is pelvic health a centerpiece or an afterthought?

Does it teach fitness from a weight-loss-centric perspective? Does it talk about helping your clients get their “pre-baby body” back?

Is it fear mongering? Does it treat vulnerable subjects with due respect?

What I Don’t Recommend:

I don’t recommend that you take the pre and postnatal certifications offered by your base personal training credential (e.g. NASM, ACE etc).

While my goal isn’t to throw shade, these courses are not going to be as comprehensive or evidence-based as the courses listed here.

There will be less transparency behind who teaches them. And you won’t benefit from on-going support or the professional network of others who have gone through the course.

In no particular order, here are 4 prenatal and postpartum fitness certifications that I think really raise the bar:

Certified Pre and Postnatal Coach Certification (CPPC, Girls Gone Strong)

Certification logo for the Girls Gone Strong Certified Pre and Postnatal Coaching program.

The CPPC certification is an interdisciplinary coaching certification covering everything from behavior change coaching principles, prenatal and postpartum nutrition, psychology and mindset, pelvic health, physiology of pregnancy and exercise considerations during all three trimesters and postpartum.

As an interdisciplinary course, it makes a fantastic introduction to coaching pregnancy and postpartum fitness through a holistic lens. It doesn’t get as granular a course that focuses, for example, more narrowly on corrective exercise or progression to higher level exercise.

However, it does provide the deepest dive into coaching principles and it provides a great foundational knowledge that complements my other 3 recommendations really well.

Who created it?

Molly Galbraith, a strength and conditioning coach and co-founder of Girls Gone Strong, created the CPPC curriculum along with a diverse panel of 16 pregnancy, postpartum, pelvic health and behavior change experts.

In 2023, the course is currently in its second revision.

How is the course delivered?

The CPPC curriculum is an online course that comes with a companion hard-copy textbook and workbook. The textbook is beautiful and serves as a gold-standard reference that you can continue to refer back to as you work with your clients.

Photo of the Girls Gone Strong CPPC 2.0 hardcopy textbook and workbook.

The course is self-paced and the certification culminates with a final exam.

How’s the professional network?

The course comes with a companion Facebook group. However, the group is open to the general population. As a result, the responses to questions are of variable quality and it’s too big to really cultivate a sense of community. As a network, I haven’t found a lot of value in it.

They do provide a coaches map, where the general population can search for a GGS-qualified coach. I’ve gotten several referrals from this directory over the years!

How long do you have access to the materials?

Lifetime access to online materials and hardcopy text. The certification is updated every few years and you can choose to purchase the updated hardcopy materials.

How long does the credential last?

2 years, re-test (free) to extend your cert.

What I loved:

The CPPC was the first pre and postnatal fitness certification that I completed and it laid an incredibly thorough foundation for my coaching practice. I learn best by reading and so I deeply appreciated the hard copy textbook. I’ve continued to use it as a reference year after year.

Pregnancy and Postpartum Athleticism Coach (P&PA, Brianna Battles)

Logo for the Pregnancy and Postpartum Coach Certification Course

The PPA coaching certification is a masterclass in progressing clients from rehab to higher level exercise. The course is biased towards strength and conditioning or CrossFit-style exercise, but the principles apply to runners, yogis and a variety of other modalities.

In creating the course, it’s Brianna’s goal to teach critical thinking around pregnancy and postpartum fitness. She teaches principles that once mastered, you can apply to any athlete that might present to you. As such, she spends a lot of time teaching the “why” behind all of the recommendations and best practices (I love this!).

This course is really well suited for anyone coaching pregnant or postpartum athletes from rehab to higher level sport (higher-intensity, higher-impact, higher-demand). However, the material is as applicable to coaching lower-level athletes as it is to coaching higher-level athletes.

Who created it?

Brianna Battles, a strength and conditioning coach with extensive experience coaching pregnant and postpartum athletes, first developed the PPA curriculum in 2017.

She draws on numerous guest lectures to compliment her own areas of expertise. In 2023, the course is currently in its third revision.

How is the course delivered?

The course is delivered online, primarily through video lectures. The course is self-study but there is an engaged Facebook group available for support.

How long do you have access to the materials?

Lifetime access.

How’s the professional network?

The P&PA professional network is next level.

The Facebook group is extremely active and collaborative. Through live events, there are opportunities to network in-person. The group is large enough to offer robust opportunity but no so large that it feels impersonal.

P&PA offers a coaches map where you can list your business once you finish the certification. I’ve received a good number of referrals from this map over the years.

How long does the credential last?


What I loved:

I loved the emphasis in this course on developing critical thinking around working with the pregnant and postpartum population. It really prepared me to support clients from a variety of athletic backgrounds and goals.

The Facebook community has been a really significant asset to my coaching practice and has been the most valuable of the networks. Brianna is very present in her community and you can feel that she has a vested interest in the success of her coaches.

I also really appreciate that Brianna is still in the trenches coaching clients. There’s a large emphasis on HOW to coach individual movements and exercises that is super practical. I took this course as a newer coach and I found the movement education to be extremely helpful and unique to this course.

Photo of Laura Jawad and Brianna Battles at the 2022 Coach Course Live event in front of a P&PA Logo backdrop.

Finally, the P&PA crew has started hosting an annual in-person coaching experience.

I attended in September 2022 (photos above and below!) and it was exceptional as both a continuing education opportunity and a networking opportunity.

Group photo taken at the 2022 P&PA Coach Course Live event.

Postnatal Fitness Specialist Certification (PFSA, Jessie Mundell)

Logo for the Postnatal Fitness Specialist Academy

Jessie Mundell created the PFSA certification to address not only postpartum fitness but the full postpartum experience. She teaches through an anti-diet, anti-racist lens and her course has deeply informed the way that I approach postnatal fintess.

She has recently created a Prenatal fitness certification, and while I haven’t taken it I would recommend it solely on the quality of the PFSA and my years of professional interaction with Jessie.

Who created it?

Jessie Mundell, Kiniesiologist and personal trainer created the PFSA in 2016. It draws on numerous guest interviews and lectures in addition to direct training by Jessie.

How is the course delivered?

The PFSA is an online course that is delivered through a combination of lectures and written pdfs. By the end of the course, you’ll have a thick binder of written materials you can refer back to. While the course is primarily self-study, she does also offer small guided cohorts and regular Q&A calls.

What I love:

Jessie isn’t afraid to do things differently. Her course provides a really holistic framework to care for the entire postpartum person, beyond simply writing workouts. In addition to providing instruction around exercise programming and movement progressions, her course addresses all aspects of core and pelvic health, c-section recovery, postpartum mental health, postpartum sexuality and considerations around things like sleep, stress and hormones.

Her course is also the only that I know of that specifically addresses assessing core and pelvic floor function in larger bodies and she does so in an extremely compassionate way. 

Jessie has challenged my perspective around exercise, privilege and the postpartum experience and I believe I’m a much better trainer for having gone through her course.

How long do you have access to the materials?

2 years with fee to renew access for additional 2 years

How’s the professional network?

This certification comes with a companion Facebook group that you have lifetime access to. It’s not super active, but the group does pitch in when someone has a question to answer or needs a local referral.

How long does credential last?

2 years, test and fee to renew

Pregnancy and Postpartum Corrective Exercise Specialist Certification (PCES, Sarah Duvall and Core Exercise Solutions)

Logo for the Pregnancy and Postpartum Corrective Exercise Specialist certification course.

PCES is an insanely robust certification. While it doesn’t address broader aspects of pregnancy and postpartum health (e.g. physiological changes that happen during pregnancy, mental health, nutrition) , It takes a very, very deep dive into corrective exercise for pregnancy and postpartum. It has the narrowest lens, but it goes the deepest.

If the CPPC is like a Pregnancy and Postpartum Fitness 101, the PCES is a 400-level seminar.

This course is taught through a biomechanical lens and is very heavy on exercise demonstrations and practical skills.

While the target is pregnancy and postpartum corrective exercise, you’ll find a lot of the skills are transferrable to a wide variety of gen pop clients you might work with.

Who created it? Who teaches it?

Sarah Duvall, a physical therapist- teaches the lion’s share of the material but provides a library of bonus material contributed by a wide range of experts

How is the course delivered?

PCES is delivered through a combination of online lectures and textbooks, self-study or guided cohorts.

When I purchased the course, the course book was delivered as a pdf. I printed it so I could have a hardcover copy (see below). Currently, the course comes with a hard copy of the text, shipped to you upon enrollment, so it might look a little different.

What I love:

PCES is incredibely robust and really dialed in to corrective exercise. The course is a treasure trove for perinatal fitness and pelvic health junkies. There’s a huge amount of bonus content available to support the core content. This includes a really extensive exercise library which is supplied both online and within the course book.

Sarah still coaches and treats and that’s reflected in the nuance with which she’s able to communicate concepts and cue exercises.  The information will improve your ability to coach all of your clients, not just the pregnant and postpartum ones. 

How long do you have access to the materials?


How’s the professional network?

There’s a companion group called, Inner Circle, but it’s a pay-to-join group so I don’t have a lot of insights. In the absence of this group, there’s not much of a professional network although Sarah does run live events. I’m looking forward to connecting with other PCES providers this coming November!

How long does credential last?


Special Note: There is more than one PCES certification credential.

There is more than one company that produces a course about pre and postnatal corrective exercise that uses the lettermark PCES. I highly recommend Sarah Duvall’s course (and only Sarah’s course) and I recommend double checking you’re in the right place before you enroll in a PCES certification. 

What Is The Best Pre And Postnatal Coaching Certification?

“Best” is subjective and I refer you back to the “How to choose a coaching certification” section. I recommend any of the 4 certifications I describe in this article- I think these 4 are “the best” of the myriad options you’ll find online.

All of them provide high-quality, robust, evidence-based education.

If you specialize in coaching pregnant women and postpartum recovery, and you’re just starting out, I recommend taking at least two of these courses. I often recommend the GGS CPPC as a “Pregnancy and Postpartum Fitness 101” and then advise choosing one of the others for a deeper dive.

I wish you the best of luck as you dive into your pre and postnatal coaching career!

If you have questions about any of the certifications this post, please post them in the comments below and I’ll be sure to follow up.


Note: This post contains affiliate links. That means if you enroll in one of the programs I recommend, I may recieve a small percent of the purchase price. I don’t recommend these programs because of the income I might recieve, but rather because I believe they offer great value. Your affiliate purchase helps support this blog.

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Redmond, WA-based Seattle birth doula Laura Jawad, headshot

My mission is to make sure that having a baby is not a reason why you can’t do all the things.

I offer customized, online pregnancy and postpartum personal training to folks locally (Seattle-area, Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland) and beyond.

Laura Jawad holds a PhD and a personal training certification (NASM). She’s a Certified Prenatal & Postnatal Coach, Pregnancy & Postpartum Athleticism Coach, and Pregnancy and Postpartum Corrective Exercise Specialist. You can check out the rest of her alphabet soup here.

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