Staying active throughout your pregnancy is important to both you and your baby’s overall health and happiness. Whether you are a chronic marathoner or a casual jogger, you’re carrying a baby, so it’s important that you know how to safely keep running. If you know what adjustments to make, you can stay safe and healthy while continuing to run throughout your pregnancy. Have no fear, we’ve written a definitive guide for running while pregnant so you don’t have to give it up for the next nine months, because nobody wants to miss out on those endorphins!
The Benefits Of Exercising While Pregnant
We all know the importance of taking care of our bodies and staying physically active. It strengthens our heart and muscles, helps blood flow properly, and improves mood. These benefits all remain true when exercising while pregnant. Staying fit during your pregnancy is healthy, safe, and highly recommended!
Exercising throughout your pregnancy can lower your odds of delivery complications and reduce your risk of developing gestational diabetes. Staying active can also reduce back and pelvic pain, bloating, swelling, fatigue, and constipation -- all common uncomfortable symptoms of pregnancy. You’ll feel healthier, sleep better, stay strong, and prevent excess weight gain if you continue to exercise during pregnancy.
But Don’t Push Yourself Too Hard
Running while pregnant is safe if you’re already an experienced runner. If you weren’t running regularly before expecting, do not start now. Your body is undergoing a number of changes and you do not need to add extra stress. There are plenty of other safe and healthy exercise regimens you can follow while pregnant, like swimming, walking, or yoga. Aim to get at least thirty minutes of moderate exercise on as many days of the week you can manage.
If you were an avid runner before expecting, though, feel free to continue running while pregnant. However, you may find that your typical eight minute mile is a lot harder to do. Pregnancy is tiring and your body is doing a lot of amazing work. Maintain a pace that you’re comfortable with, even if it’s slower than your pace was before you conceived. Instead of setting mileage goals, focus on the minutes you clock running. Remember, it’s not a race! There is no finish line, and there is no competition.
If you experience pain at any point, stop. Speak to your doctor immediately if you experience dizziness, headache, chest pain, calf pain or swelling, muscle weakness, vaginal bleeding, amniotic fluid leakage, or any signs of preterm labor. Do not try to push through any discomfort. Stop running and consult your practitioner. Pregnancy is no time to test your limits and prepare for a marathon.
5 Adjustments To Make For Running While Pregnant
Your typical running routine may not be as simple or effortless as it was prior to conceiving. Your body is changing and growing another human being. That’s a lot of hard work! There are some helpful adjustments you can adopt, though, to make running while pregnant easier and more enjoyable.
1. Invest in good running shoes
It is absolutely crucial that you wear proper, well fitting, supportive footwear when running while pregnant. You need to make sure your ankles and joints are safe from sprains and strains. Your body’s shifting hormones actually causes your body’s muscles, joints, and ligaments to become more elastic, leaving you much more vulnerable to injury. This hormone, which is called relaxin, is great for when you’re in labor and need that cervix to relax and stretch, but can make you wobbly and unsteady on your feet, so take extra care when running.
The extra pregnancy weight can also put a lot of pressure on your knees, resulting in joint pain. A new, stable pair of shoes can make the biggest difference to keep you safe while running. Make sure your new pair of sneakers fit perfectly and support your ankles and arches. If you are unsure of what kind of shoe to invest in, visit a specialty running store and get fitted by an expert. Pick up a cute, new pair that makes you feel sporty and get ready to hit the track!
2. Buy a good sports bra
A big adjustment to make when running while pregnant is taking care of your growing breasts. You may find them to be uncomfortably heavy and a nuisance when working out, but a good sports bra can help. Invest in a sturdy, supportive bra that fits perfectly to help relieve some of the pain that may arise when running.
3. Know where your restrooms are along your route
You have probably already noticed more pressure on your bladder. As your uterus expands, it presses on your bladder, making you feel like you need to pee a lot more often than you did before expecting. As the weeks go along, this will only worsen, so make sure you know where you can stop to relieve yourself while running. If you have to map out a new route to accommodate more frequent bathroom breaks, do so. It’s worth it.
4. Consider buying a belly support band
As your pregnant tummy continues to grow and get heavier and more obtrusive, you may find that running becomes far more uncomfortable. The weight of your belly bouncing with every stride can leave you frustrated and tired. Luckily, they do make support bands for pregnant bellies to help ease the discomfort. Maternal support bands help alleviate pelvic pressure, as well as helping you maintain a neutral posture (which is so important) and keeping pressure off of your abdominal connective tissue.
5. Remember To Stay Hydrated
It was already important to stay hydrated when you were running before conceiving, but now it is absolutely imperative. While you should already be drinking water throughout the day, be sure to drink before, during, and after your run. Dehydration can restrict blood flow to your uterus, which can cause premature contractions.
Water also does all the hard work of transporting nutrients and vitamins to your baby, so it is extra important to stay hydrated. Monitor the color of your urine to make sure you’re drinking enough fluids. It should be the color of very light lemonade -- any darker and you are already on your way to dehydration. Another bonus of drinking enough water is that it also helps to keep your skin plump and hydrated, which can aid in preventing stretch marks (add in a good cream and you’re set).
Put It Into Action
Keep the good habits you had as a runner before getting pregnant. Always stretch, warm up, and cool down after working out. Don’t skip any steps! You can keep running while pregnant, as long as you do so smartly. Wear the proper, supportive gear -- sneakers, sports bras, and a belly support band if you need it. Pace yourself and don’t push your limits. Keep your water bottle filled and drink before, during, and after your run (while keeping in mind where you can stop to pee along the way!). Now lace up those new sneakers and get outside! You and your baby will be happy and healthy if you just remember these guidelines from Mustela.