Your Guide to Running While Pregnant
Pregnancy isn't a reason to give up exercising, but you may need to reset your expectations. Find out more about running while pregnant over the trimesters.
If you've always been an avid runner and are worried you have to hang up your running shoes for the next nine months, we have good news for you. Running while pregnant can be done safely and has many benefits for both you and your baby.
If you were a runner before you were pregnant, there's no reason you can't be a runner throughout your entire pregnancy. In fact, running can be beneficial for pregnant women. Running throughout your pregnancy has psychological benefits, and this activity helps you stay physically fit and maintain your strength.
Here are some of the benefits and safety concerns that you should keep in mind for running during each trimester and after your baby is born:
- First trimester
In the beginning, keep doing what you were doing. It's important to not start any new running programmes when pregnant. If you didn't run a marathon before you were pregnant, now is not the time to start, and you really shouldn't be pushing for your personal best.
You might find that it's actually quite hard to keep up with what you were doing. That's because during early pregnancy, your baby is quite literally sapping your energy. Listen to your body: give in to fatigue by cutting back your pace or distance and increase your sleep. Keep at it, and you will probably get back on track in the next trimester.
- Second trimester
During the second trimester, the biggest challenge for running while pregnant is having to adjust to a new centre of gravity. Make sure you are aware of your bodily changes which may make losing balance, tripping or mis-stepping more likely while running. Your running shoes should be comfortable, sturdy and supportive to cope with the added weight and change of centre of gravity.
During this trimester, it's also important for you to see your gynecologist regularly, to make sure that your cervix can support your growing baby. Unless a cervical exam shows that you have a compromised cervix, you can keep running. Overall, up until you are well into the second trimester, you can continue your normal running regime without much change.
- Third trimester
As was the case in the second trimester, you really need to pay close attention to your centre of gravity and your balance. In order to be as comfortable as possible, this is a great time to invest in good, supportive sports bras. In the third trimester, you should avoid exercises that comprise fetal blood flow, like standing in place for a long period of time or lifting heavy weights. But, in addition to running, you can include pregnancy yoga, walking and swimming in your exercise routine, until you're near term.
It is safe for you to keep running while pregnant right up until your baby is born. In fact, running throughout the pregnancy and into the third trimester can make labour a lot easier on women. This athletic activity keeps your pelvic floor healthy and strong, and will even help with your recovery after your baby is born. Make sure you stay well hydrated, as dehydration can cause an increase in Braxton-Hicks contractions. Remember to stop, rest and hydrate if you start to have more than 6 contractions an hour, as this could mean that your baby is on the way!
- After your baby is born
After you have your baby, you can try to get back to your running routine as soon as you feel comfortable doing so, as this can help you get back to your pre-pregnancy weight and improve your postpartum mood.
After your baby is born it is natural to need some alone time and running can provide the perfect solution. Leave your baby with your babysitter, nanny or partner while you head out for a jog and catch up on some much needed you time.
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