If you’re an avid runner who loves nothing more than a park run or even a challenging half marathon to get your blood pumping, then the thought of giving up your passion when you fall pregnant can be demoralizing.
There is a lot of uncertainty around whether it’s safe for women to run and do high-intensity exercise whilst pregnant, but we’re here today to present you with the facts so you can make your own decision.
So if you’re looking to find out more about running while pregnant then keep on reading.
Is Running While Pregnant Safe For The Baby?
Generally, running is considered safe during pregnancy, as long as you’ve received the ok from your doctor to do so.
There is some speculation that running whilst you’re pregnant can cause complications for your baby or even induce early labor, but this is untrue and there is no evidence that running can cause miscarriages, complications, or any harm to your baby.
However, with that being said this doesn’t mean you’ll be able to continue with your pre-pregnancy running schedule as normal and you’ll have to take more precautions to ensure you keep you and your baby safe whilst out running.
If you weren’t a regular runner before pregnancy, then starting once you find out you’re pregnant may not be the best thing for your body and your muscles and body will come under a lot of stress from using new muscles you didn’t use to which will be more difficult as you’ll already feel exhausted from the changes your body is currently experiencing.
If you’re a newbie to exercise and want to try to stay healthy during your pregnancy, opt for lower intensity exercise like a walk or some light yoga to get your exercise in and then gradually increase your workout time.
Note: If you have experienced complications in your pregnancy already, then running may not be advisable unless your doctor has told you it is safe.
How Far Should I Run Whilst Pregnant?
For the first few months of pregnancy, depending on your mood and symptoms you may find you’re able to maintain your usual running routine and run the distances that you did pre-pregnancy, but as you get closer to your due date, you’ll inevitably have to slow down.
30 mins to 1 hour should be enough to keep you fit and in shape, any more and you may feel yourself becoming too exhausted. Allow yourself some walking breaks whilst running.
Depending on how your pregnancy is going, you may find yourself in discomfort with feeling swollen, the weight of your belly feeling immense even when you walk, and even struggling to go 10 minutes without needing the bathroom.
If this is the case, give yourself some grace and slow down to some walks instead of an intense run.
The Benefits Of Running While Pregnant
- Regular running or exercise during pregnancy can help reduce weight gain and therefore also reduce the risk of gestational diabetes, pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, and also the chance of you having a baby with a high birth rate.
- Being in better shape whilst pregnant may also lead to an easier birth and a quicker recovery after giving birth.
- Pregnancy can be an anxious and stressful time for soon-to-be-mothers and running will be able to release positive endorphins and ease your body of some worries that you may be holding
- Running whilst pregnant can also improve a baby’s brain development
- As you get deeper into your pregnancy, your body will experience some drastic changes that can affect your running ability. For example, your belly will increase and alter your balance and center of gravity which will put you at risk of falling over so it will be better to run on flat surfaces.
- As pregnancy progresses, your joints and ligaments will become more relaxed to relax your pelvis in preparation for birth, therefore you could be at an increased chance of injury, so you may want to consider slowing your exercise routine as time moves on.
When Should You Stop Running Whilst Pregnant?
Many people find they stop running in their third trimester due to discomfort in their body and you may just feel too mentally and physically exhausted to do anything.
However, if you do feel able to get a few miles in during the last few weeks of your pregnancy and you’ve been given the thumbs up from your doctor, then feel free to continue running.
When Can You Return To Running After Giving Birth?
Once you’ve given birth, it can be weeks or even months before you’re allowed to run or exercise properly again, but this will depend on how the birth went and the progression of your recovery.
Your ligaments and tendons will be super relaxed after birth and you’ll have an increased chance of getting injured by doing too much too soon.
Most doctors recommend waiting 12 weeks after birth before returning to your exercise routine and even then you may have to start at a lower intensity to build your stamina and strength back up.
Tips For Running While Pregnant
- Buy a good sports bra: Breasts normally increase in size when you get pregnant so wearing a supportive sports bra will reduce discomfort when running
- Invest in good running shoes: Your running shoes will need to offer good support, cushioning, and impact absorption to prevent injuries and to also ensure you’re well balanced
- Stay hydrated: Avoiding overheating or dehydration is key when pregnant as you don’t want to pass out and fall on your belly. Drink water before, during, and after your workout, and don’t exercise in hot temperatures
- Wear a belly support band: These bands will help support your belly when you’re running to reduce discomfort and pain
- Stay close to bathrooms: The weight of your baby can push down on your bladder and you’ll find you need the bathroom more frequently, try running shorter routes to be closer to home or plan your run near public bathrooms
- Eat a balanced diet: Your body needs more calories than normal when you’re pregnant and if you’re running then you’ll be burning even more calories, so make sure to eat a proper meal 4-5 hours before your run and refuel afterward
- Give yourself some grace: You’re growing a baby inside of you, so understandably you’re exhausted. Know your limits and allow yourself to put your feet up and rest sometimes and don’t overdo it