April 11, 2022

Pregnancy Safe Alternatives with Christina

When it comes to exercise and pregnancy, there is often uncertainty about what is and isn’t safe. However, we spoke to Christina and she is here to let you know that pregnancy doesn’t always mean you have to give up the movement you enjoy and that if you need to rest that is normal and okay! 

KICBUMP is such an empowering program to help build confidence in our KIC Mummas, what other KIC workouts would you recommend to complement KICBUMP?

I’ve always thought that the best kind of movement is the kind you enjoy and pregnancy doesn’t have to change that! Especially in the first 16 weeks or so, if your body is feeling up to it then any and all of the KIC workouts are safe.

Once you start to get a little deeper into pregnancy you may need to start making some adjustments – generally speaking things that involve lying on your belly or if you’re over 12 weeks, flat on your back – or you may just find that things in your body feel a little different and you’d like to slow down the pace. In that case, something from Brooke’s low impact HIIT – like ‘Brookes Booty Band Burn’ – might suit your changing body and won’t require too many modifications. I also love to see pregnant bodies strength training, so something like Brittney’s ‘Bi Bi Arms’ wont need a lot of adjustment either.

At the end of the day you know your body better than anyone, just be sure to have medical clearance, have confidence in your judgment and tune in deeply to the kind of movement (or rest!) that your body needs.

Your KICBUMP prenatal classes have shown us the wide range of movements we CAN do throughout pregnancy, when we're doing other KIC workouts like Low Impact or Cardio Pilates, are there any movements that we should avoid? Does this change during our first, second and third trimesters?

In your first trimester there really isn’t anything that needs to change in your movement so if you’re feeling good then go for gold! Through the second and third trimester, the current guidelines recommend that you avoid lying flat on your back if you are 12 weeks or over. It’s also recommended that you avoid holding isometric contractions for a prolonged period (so if you have to hold a squat, plank or even a tree pose for a long time try a shorter hold or continued movement instead). Other than that, in an uncomplicated pregnancy, majority of movements are safe and recommended, including (contrary to popular belief) abdominal movement.

Your KICBUMP challenges include pregnancy-safe alternatives that we can swap in when we're doing other KIC workouts, are you able to list some alternatives for any exercises you mentioned we should avoid?

I find that people get the most uncertain around abdominal focused exercise – so before I go on, it should be acknowledged that there is no current evidence to support the notion that abdominal exercise is either unsafe or going to increase the severity of abdominal separation during pregnancy.

However in saying that, pregnancy can make some abdominal based exercise feel near impossible anyway, so these are some of my favourite swaps as you get further along:

  • If you still feel comfortable doing abdominal work on your back, then simply pop a cushion, pilates ball, or even a foam roller under your mid back to elevate your heart.
  • Instead of bicycle crunches or criss cross try Standing Bicycle crunches (pulling your opposite knee to opposite elbow in a standing position).
  • Instead of single leg extensions or leg raises try standing knee pulls ( lifting one knee as high up as you can).
  • Instead of prone (tummy on the floor or on the bench) exercises try doing the same movement in a wide leg good morning position.
  • Instead of a full range sit up or roll up try a half roll back instead.
  • If things like lunges and squats start to get a little tricky, try holding onto a kitchen bench or chair to help support your body and take away some of the load.
  • Some people find single leg work really painful or uncomfortable, so when in doubt, squat it out! Mix up your squats with weight or hands behind your head, or you can elevate your heels or toes with a weight plate or yoga block for an extra challenge.

What's your advice for any expectant mums who are nervous about exercising during pregnancy?

Again, no one knows your body better than you. It may be changing rapidly and movement that used to feel great might now feel really strange or not right for your body. This is the time to dive deep into your physical being and get in touch with what your body is asking of you. Try to have confidence in your body’s capacity to adapt while being brave enough to pull back or modify when your body calls you to. There is overwhelming evidence to support the role and positive impact of exercise during pregnancy so, if your body feels called to move then honour that as best you can.

Keeping your body well and healthy during pregnancy is so important. Start small if you’re nervous and keep it simple! A walk or some push ups on a park bench are just as valuable as working up a full blown sweat! Try your best not to overthink it.

What's your advice for any expectant mums who are struggling to move their bodies at the moment and are feeling guilty?

I can really relate to this feeling. Towards the end of my pregnancy I could not find any desire to move. My body felt tired and I had some serious pelvic girdle pain. I was in that much pain that I couldn’t walk more than a few hundred meters without having to stop and sit. I felt like I should have been to move the same as always and that put so much unnecessary pressure on my mind and soul.

I think it comes back to trusting your body and trusting the process of pregnancy. We have been growing and birthing babies since the beginning of time and so it’s only natural that our bodies have developed ways of protecting and preparing themselves for birth and the fourth trimester.

I can’t erase the guilt for you, but I can tell you that rest is just as valuable as exercise. It can be so challenging, especially with social media and the constant comparisons we draw between ourselves and others who are growing humans, to slow down and surrender to what our bodies are asking of us. However, I believe there is significant value in tuning out the noise and giving yourself permission to follow your body’s instinct to slow down and rest.

If you are pregnant be sure to seek medical advice and gain clearance from your doctor before starting the KICBUMP program. 

Christina Traychevska