Can I run while pregnant? Is it healthy for my baby, and my own body, to run during pregnancy?
Nicole Goodman is an avid runner, occasional triathlete, and forever outdoor enthusiast. Her idea of a fabulous vacation involves lots of GORP while backpacking in the National Park system, although trail running and stand-up paddle boarding in Hawaii are close seconds. She writes about motherhood, running, travel, and her obsession with athletic apparel at Work in Sweats Mama.
I am a runner. I’ve raced the mile to the marathon and pretty much everything in between.
When I found out I was expecting in 2009, I had no intention of swapping my active lifestyle for a sedentary pregnancy.
Thankfully, long gone are the days of letting your running shoes gather dust for nine months!
My OB knew I was a runner, so she wasn’t surprised when I walked into my first prenatal appointment and bombarded her with questions about pregnancy and fitness.
Pregnancy is not the time to crank up your mileage or train for a marathon, but my OB gave me the all-clear to keep running, as long as I felt comfortable.
I decided to take it day-by-day, and I promised myself I’d only run as long as I felt comfortable and safe.
Now I’ve got bragging rights for life! I ran through both of my pregnancies, even logging three miles the day I went into labor with my first.
And when it was show-time, labor and delivery went pretty darn smooth and quick, a fact I attribute to my overall fitness and endurance…and a little help from a fabulous epidural!
My postpartum recovery was also faster, and I was running just three weeks after my girls arrived.
If you’re a fierce and fearless mama-to-be, follow these tried & true tips:
- Talk to Your Doctor – Start an open, honest dialogue with your doctor at your first appointment, so she can provide the best advice and care throughout your pregnancy. If your OB tells you exercise isn’t advisable or permissible, consider switching doctors.
- Listen to Your Body – Some days it really is better to skip your workout, put your feet up, and watch trashy TV. Your body is working overtime, so don’t feel guilty when you need to swap a run for a nap.
- Grin & Bear It – You’re going to get funny looks and inappropriate comments from total strangers and concerned family. The sweet little lady on the next treadmill will repeatedly ask if you’re all right. Others will be more direct and downright rude. Just smile politely, nod, and keep on running!
- Stay Hydrated – Keep your favorite water bottle handy and drink. All. The. Time. Hydration is critical for both mom and baby during pregnancy.
- Be Prepared for Pit Stops – With the extra water and increased pressure on your bladder, you’re going to feel like you need to pee. All. The. Time. Plan your routes around clean, public restrooms.
- Less Trails, More Treadmills – I love trail running, but I stuck to smooth road and treadmill runs during my pregnancies. As your center of gravity shifts, you may feel less stable and more wobbly. Minimize the risk of falling by avoiding technical trails and rough roads.
- Find a Buddy – I rarely ran alone when I was pregnant. Enlist your running buddies so there’s always someone to help in case of a fall or accident. If you do run solo, let someone know.
- Support Your Girls & Bump – Your belly isn’t the only part of your body that will expand during pregnancy. Give the girls the TLC they need with the most supportive sports bra you can find. While you’re at it, splurge on some new running shorts or skort to accommodate your blossoming bump.
- Treat Your Feet – Keep your tootsies, knees, and joints happy with proper footwear. Your feet may grow during pregnancy, so make sure your shoes are the right size.
- Forget About Time & Pace – Early in pregnancy, you won’t notice a huge difference in pace, but you may be too tired or nauseous to log your normal miles. As pregnancy progresses, you’ll transition from a run to a jog and finally to a wog (waddle + jog). Leave your pedometer, watch with GPS, and expectations at home, and you’ll be much happier.
Most importantly, just keep moving! You may discover running isn’t the best prenatal exercise for you, and that’s okay!
There are countless ways to stay fit and fabulous throughout your pregnancy, whether it’s running, swimming, hiking, yoga, or spinning. While some activities, like downhill skiing, water skiing, and horseback riding are off-limits, most exercises are safe in every trimester. When in doubt, consult your doctor.
Before you know it, you’ll be crossing the finish line of the best race ever and meeting your baby for the first time!
Adam Broderick manages the web content at Tahoe Mountain Sports. When he is not in the office, he tries his best to be in the field doing something awesome.