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Was it safe to run while pregnant?
Could I really give up running for nine months?
For a lot of women, running is an important part of their lives. In years past, running while pregnant was taboo, but now research has shown that running is not only ok, it’s beneficial.
Whether you run for the solitude, the fitness, or to compete, it can continue to be a part of your life through pregnancy.
Every woman is different, so it is important to talk to your doctor. But if you’ve been given the go-ahead, don’t be afraid to get out there and run! Here’s what you need to know about running while pregnant.
The benefits of running.
Numerous studies haven shown that exercise improves the health of you and your baby by lessening back pain, improving sleep quality, and reducing delivery complications and time spent in labor. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that pregnant women get at least 150 minutes of exercise every week.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also promotes regular exercise during pregnancy as a way to promote healthy weight gain, strengthen your heart and blood vessels, decrease the odds of a cesarean delivery, and make it easier to lose weight after your baby is born.
If you ran before becoming pregnant, continuing to do so through your pregnancy is beneficial to you and your baby.
Changes to Your Body
Before you head out the door, remember it won’t be business as usual.
Pregnancy puts your body through a lot of changes and being aware of what you’re body is going through helps keep you safe.
- Your joints become more flexible, which can change the way your body handles impact.
- Your center of gravity shifts from the extra weight in the front so you are more likely to stumble or fall.
- The extra weight will also cause your body to work harder than before you were pregnant.
How far you run should be determined by what your body is accustomed to – if you used to run six miles a day, you can continue to do so as long as you realize your pace will slow down.
But don’t feel like you’re letting yourself down. A slower pace is going to feel just as challenging while pregnant.
Keep these changes in mind while you run, and don’t get frustrated if you can’t perform like you used to. The fact that you’re running through pregnancy is enough cause to celebrate.
Protect your body with these items.
Taking care of your body is important for all runners, but it’s especially important during pregnancy. You need to protect your growing baby, but also yourself. Here’s how to take extra care when hitting the pavement:
- Invest in a good sports bra – It might be tempting to continue wearing your old sports bras, but soon they won’t only not fit you – they won’t support your growing breasts, making running uncomfortable. Having an adjustable supportive bra will also come in handy post-delivery as you get back into running.
- Wear supportive shoes – Your joints (including your feet) are going to be expanding. Don’t torture your feet by asking them to cushion your extra weight in poor fitting or unsupportive shoes. See our guide on supportive pregnancy shoes here.
- Consider a belly band – No matter how fast or on what terrain you run, your body bounces up and down. As its name suggests, a belly band lends support to your expanding belly. I could not have continued running through my second trimester without one. There are several different types of bands, so read up to find the one that matches your lifestyle. We have a guide on belly bands right here.
The signs you should slow down.
As with any form of exercise, you should be aware of the warning signs to prevent injury. It’s tempting to push through the pain because you want to continue running, but ease up if you notice any of the following signs:
- You feel pain in your joints and ligaments
- Running makes you feel exhausted instead of energized
- Your muscles feel sore, weak, or shaky for a long period after exercising
- You feel dizzy
- You have chest pain, contractions, or vaginal bleeding
Remember, you should never run to the point of exhaustion. Pushing yourself to the limit forces your body to divert oxygen away from your growing baby. Stop running and talk to your doctor if you have any of these complications.
Hit the pavement!
If running is a part of your life, it’s a great way to get your exercise while pregnant. By understanding what you’re body is going through and altering your expectations, running can be a gift you give to yourself and your baby by keeping you both healthy and happy.