Running While Pregnant: The Most Important Facts!
As your ob-gyn would tell you, many exercise activities that you have safely done throughout your entire pregnancy are safe to do while pregnant. Note that important fact. During your pregnancy is typically not the time to embark on a whole new training adventure. At least not if it is an impact activity like running. How do you decide what you can and cannot do? How to know what is safe? At what point should you stop certain physical activities? What will running while pregnant feel like? You’ve got questions? We have answers!
Physical Activity While Pregnant
Engaging in physical activity while you are pregnant is very good for your body. Working out while pregnant can help improve your overall mood and disposition. It can also keep your energy levels up, which is super helpful! If you have been pregnant before you know that sometimes you find yourself feeling extra sleepy.
On the flip side, some women struggle with good sleep while pregnant and, guess what? Regular exercise can also help you sleep better (not just while pregnant!).
Exercise always helps you with muscle tone, endurance and strength, all of which will help you feel stronger during labor and delivery. If you are worried about excessive weight gain, exercising can also help to prevent that. Lastly, for some women, exercise can help to alleviate constipation and bloating sometimes associated with pregnancy.
Of course, there are many kinds of activities you can do while pregnant. Some are best done within the first and second trimesters. Other types of activities can certainly be done all the way through the pregnancy. It is also important to remember that every person (and pregnancy!) is different.
You will likely find you need to purchase some larger and more supportive sports bras if you plan to do high-impact activity. Don’t fret, you will probably need them for a while after you give birth. This is especially true if you are breastfeeding!
Although there are good recommendations and suggestions, there are no hard and fast rules. You have to listen to your body!
Can Running While Pregnant Hurt The Baby?
For most people, it is perfectly safe to keep running while pregnant. If you have any type of complication, including bleeding or pre-eclampsia, you may wish to forgo running and try another activity.
Also, women carrying multiples may find themselves at high risk for early labor and may be advised not to run.
Will Running Cause Miscarriage?
If you have a perfectly normal pregnancy and are carrying just one baby, it is probably safe for you to run! Running, in and of itself, will not cause injury to the baby or miscarriage. Babies are miraculously protected within their little water bubble inside of mom.
Having said that, you should speak to your physician before you decide to exercise. Also, you should not start any type of new regiment before seeking medical advice. This is best practice for anyone, pregnant or not!
Can I Run During The First Trimester?
This is the time when your body is most likely to still love running. True, your body is undergoing changes. However, those changes are less likely to make you feel like your body has been taken siege.
Things to be aware of while running while pregnant are that you may start to sweat faster than before. Also, since your body will always feel a bit hotter while pregnant, you should be very careful when it is hot outside. Many doctors recommend you do your summer running indoors and/or in the early morning hours.
It is also recommended that you wear comfortable and loose-fitting clothing while running during pregnancy.
Many people actually find that running in the second trimester becomes easier than in the first one. That is because of common nausea and exhaustion many women experience.
How Long Can I Run While Pregnant?
Your average runner who has been doing so before the pregnancy can absolutely keep running after conception. As you get further along in your pregnancy, you should think of running (and all exercise, for that matter), in terms of perceived exertion. Your perceived exertion should not go above a 7, on a scale of 1-10, in regards to exertion.
How do you determine exertion level? On a 7 on the effort scale, you can keep going at that rate for 45 minutes to an hour. You should be able to speak.
Many runners can run comfortably through the first and second trimesters. Many runners feel that the third trimester is the magic time to stop. Honestly, it does vary by athlete.
Depending on how big you have gotten, how much fatigue you experience, if you start to feel sore and/or uncomfortable, and other factors. Like many other things, running during pregnancy is a very personal decision and it does vary widely by athlete.
What To Expect When Exercising While Pregnant
The first thing to expect and watch for is overheating. Since your body temperature heats up normally during pregnancy, you need to be extra careful. Another thing to consider is that you may be more likely to fall or trip while pregnant. As your center of gravity changes, falling becomes an issue for some. You should be very careful while running or engaging in any vigorous activity while pregnant.
Some athletes monitor their heart rate normally and continue to do so while pregnant. Remember that the recommended consideration is perceived exertion. It is likely that you will start to slow down and feel like you are working harder to move slower than before pregnancy.
Pregnancy is not the time to push yourself. It is okay to slow down, take breaks, walk if you need to and take extra rest days. You also may determine to incorporate some low or zero impact exercise to alternate with other things like running. Some excellent examples are swimming, water walking, cycling, etc.
Due to increased pressure on your bladder, you may find yourself having to plan for extra restroom breaks.
How to know when to resume your normal activity? You should probably wait to go to your six-week postpartum checkup prior to considering exercise. It is important to give your body time to bounce back. After all, you just grew a tiny human within your body!
There are experts who say it is perfectly fine to start brisk walking or jogging pretty quickly after giving birth. We will defer to the advice of your physician on this one. He or she will know your level of physical fitness, prior activity, level of experience and how your pregnancy and birth went.
Even if you are in a hurry to get back to activity, know that you will maintain your level of physical fitness for quite some time. The best thing you can do for your physical and mental health is to offer yourself grace as you spend the earliest weeks bonding with your new baby.