It was a common misconception that pregnant women should take complete bed rest and avoid any exercise. Things have changed today and doctors always advise pregnant women to stay active. It means that if you want you can continue running while pregnant.However, you need to work with your doctor who will help you determine your mileage considering what you were doing before. It is a good idea though to switch to lower-impact activities such as walking and swimming as your due date approaches.
Can I Still Go Running While Pregnant?
Of course you can. Running is a great form of exercise that keeps your heart and body working. Even if you have not been running regularly before pregnancy, you can still start now. However, you need to keep in mind that running is a high-impact exercise and puts serious pressure on your pelvic floor and knees. During pregnancy, your joints will loosen up due to the hormone relaxin, so you are more susceptible to injuries during this time. Therefore, you need to ensure that you maintain proper form while running and switch to swimming, walking or another type of exercise to avoid any problem.
Running while pregnant or doing other low-impact exercises regularly will provide you with several health benefits. It lowers your risk of developing preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and other medical complications. It helps you maintain a healthy body weight and makes you feel better throughout your pregnancy. Regular exercise during pregnancy also makes faster recovery possible after delivery.
How to Make a Plan for Running While Pregnant
When you want to run during pregnancy, you need to work as per a proper plan. You need to consider how much you have been covering before pregnancy to determine how much distance you should cover during pregnancy. If you have been running 55 miles/week before pregnancy, here is what you should do in your first, second, and third trimesters.
You do not need to start a new running program so early in your pregnancy. While there is no risk involved in sticking to the same routine as before, you may find yourself more tired and exhausted after completing your running session. If you feel tired, you should listen to your body. It is important to get more sleep during your first trimester to give your body some time to recover.
You feel more tired while running the same distance during pregnancy because your baby is sapping your energy now. It is therefore a good idea to cut back your pace or mileage to make you feel more comfortable. It is completely fine to reduce it to 40 miles/week with long run between 12 and 16 miles. You can reduce the pace of your runs as well.
You can continue with the same plan you have devised in your first trimester, but you need to be a bit more careful about your balance during second trimester. Your growing body may affect your center of gravity and make it a bit difficult to run. It is easy to fall while running during your second trimester. Wear a comfortable pair of running shoes that support your growing body weight.
Talk to your gynecologist regularly to ensure that your cervix is in a position to support your baby when you are running while pregnant.They will perform a cervical exam and let you know if they notice a compromised cervix. Otherwise, they will encourage you to continue with your routine. If it is not serious, you can continue running for 30-35 miles/week with long run between 10 and 14 miles. Your pace will begin to get slower, which is completely fine actually.
During your third trimester, the most important thing is to pay close attention to your shifting center of gravity to maintain proper balance while running. Along with buying a nice pair of running shoes, you should also invest in supportive bras to keep you comfortable when running in your third trimester. It is important to avoid exercises that make you stand in place for an extended period because it may compromise fetal blood flow. You can do running as well as walking, yoga, swimming, and other low-impact exercises during this phase.
You should not keep yourself from running late into your third trimester. In fact, doing this will make labor a lot easier because the activity strengthens your pelvic floor. This also promotes quick recovery after delivery. Just pay attention to keeping yourself hydrated because dehydration can lead to an increase in Braxton-Hicks contraction. Stop running if you get more than 6 contractions an hour. You can limit your running distance to 20-30 miles/week during your third trimester with long run between 8 and 10 miles. Keep your pace slow.
When Is It Recommended to Stop Running While Pregnant?
Your doctor will advise you to keep runningin most cases, but they will also advise you to never run to the point of breathlessness or exhaustion – doing this will make you use up oxygen that would otherwise be used up by your baby.
You should stop running immediately and go see your doctor if you experience dizziness, vaginal bleeding, difficulty breathing, chest pain, headache, calf pain, muscle weakness, contractions, and fluid leaking from your vagina. It is also important to see your doctor if you notice decreased fetal movement.
When Can You Start Running After Giving Birth?
This is rather tricky because things work differently for different women. It depends mainly on your birth and recovery. The answer will be different for women who have had a C-section or who needed stitches for any tearing. If you have delivered your first child would also have an impact on how long you should take before you start running again. Most women are able to run within 6 weeks of delivery, but it can take up to 3-4 months in some cases. You have to listen to your body and know when it feels comfortable to run again. Whenever you decide to run again, be sure to run slow and increase your mileage gradually.