Top Irish physio says social support delivers reassurance, validation & guidance to new & expectant mums

Life-altering moments such as pregnancy, birth and early parenthood can be a stressful time for parents, in particular women, and as a result, many undergo a period of poor mental health or low-level anxiety.

Pregnancy and motherhood create changes in your body, brain, identity and relationships and caring for their own health and wellbeing are not always top of a mother’s priority list. Often, factors such as hormonal changes, pelvic pain and feelings of isolation can contribute to this temperamental season of life. But despite this being such a common experience for mums-to-be and new mothers, it’s still not an issue that’s widely discussed in motherhood circles.

Ailish Cleary - The Bump Room

Irish physio and co-founder of The Bump Room, Ailish Cleary, says that having relationships and a connection with other women going through similar life experiences at the same time is critical for new and expectant mothers.

“It is critical, not just for new mothers, but also during pregnancy that women get to connect with other women who are going through similar experience and a similar journey to feel supported and not as alone or isolated as they navigate it. In The Bump Room classes, we see that women are hungry for this and now that I understand what a transition it is to become a mother, I know that it’s not just physical changes, but our brains also change, our emotions change, we have mental changes. It is such a sensitive time and you need lots of support, reassurance, validation and guidance. And that comes from other women that are going through the same experience. It’s so critical. That’s why things like informal social supports, such as The Bump Room and our post-natal or pregnancy classes, and baby massage classes, swimming classes, lactation groups – anything that brings these women together is so important. Not just for what you’re doing in the group but for all those informal connections and conversations that happen in the background.”

The Bump Room is all about supporting and connecting women across Ireland as they navigate their pregnancy, post-natal and motherhood experience. From the first glimpse of that beautiful bump to the weeks, months and even years after baby’s arrival, The Bump Room’s physiotherapists help support, motivate and reassure women through movement, education and advice. From social support for peri-natal mental health, to advice on managing pelvic pain and even offering advice to post-natal mothers on topics such as returning to running, this team of talented physiotherapists aim to support women by nurturing their health and wellbeing for the entire pregnancy and on to their postnatal journey.

“Our classes are not just about fitness and exercise, but we have a chat at the start of every class and an education topic at the end, so that the class is, as a whole, a positive physical and learning experience for the mums,” continued Ailish.

“We create an informal social support structure. We are bringing women together who are going through life experience at the same time. And within that, we facilitate a lot of space for informal connections, allowing women some time to have a chat and have those conversations. Often introducing or connecting women who you know maybe are both new to the area, just moved here or returned here, and making sure everyone is included. It’s often at the end of the class, during the 10-minute education session, that women open up about their experiences, their opinions on it and this is what offers other mums that social support. We also have a WhatsApp group where mothers can communicate with one another.”

The Bump Room offer both in-person and online classes nationwide and Ailish says that mums attending online classes can still benefit from this social support with her peers.

“If I had a magic wand, I’d have in-person classes in every town and village in Ireland. But the reality is that we can’t, so we have the online classes as an option. We still have a chat at the start of the class, as well as the end of class education piece, and we do request that people have their cameras on for that part so that people can see each other at the end when we are doing the questions. There is a different energy in the in=person classes but online classes are still really valuable, especially if you’re in an area where you cannot access an in-person class or you’re in a situation where you have other kids or you just can’t make it to classes. We also have a class specifically for women with pelvic pain and that class is a safe space for women to be able to share their experience and get understood and know they are not alone. Women get so much from it.

In terms of women experiencing the benefits of the classes, Ailish says that she often notices immense changes in women who are attending both in-person or online classes.

We have been teaching so long and we are all physios, so we find that women are aware that we know what we are doing, that it is safe and official to the pregnant body and we have taken into account everyone’s medical history. So what you’d see over the weeks is that they get more and more confident within their bodies and within themselves. Sometimes the journey to pregnancy itself is challenging, or the women might have a history of traumatic birth and could have that low level anxiety about what is coming and what is next for them. All these things can affect women’s confidence in themselves and their bodies. We are giving them all the guidance to increase their knowledge and empower.

And what we notice also makes a big difference, is that we listen. We really listen to their stories about what happened and validate their experience. I wouldn’t jump in but I’d listen and acknowledge and validate and that’s something that we would all do. I have seen immense changes as a result and it’s probably one of the biggest reasons I still teach the classes 14 years later. Because I know what makes a difference. It may be just one subtle conversation but sometimes that’s all it takes before you start seeing women get more confident in their bodies and themselves.”

The Bump Room currently offers online classes as well as in-person classes in the following locations around Ireland: Counties Clare, Cork, Dublin, Kerry, Limerick, Mayo, Tipperary and Waterford with further locations in Sligo, Westmeath and Cork set to open soon. As their Instructors are CORU registered, the classes are all redeemable against health insurance too.

For more information about The Bump Room, visit or follow The Bump Room on Instagram here.