Pregnancy is the beginning of a completely life-altering experience: becoming a parent. It’s a process that brings with it tons of questions, loads of emotions, and undoubtedly, a lot of change.
Of course, your pregnant body will undergo a lot of change, and you will likely feel that you experience a good amount of psychological or mental change as well. You may find that you receive a lot of conflicting advice and information from well-intentioned people, and it may be tough to know what is or isn’t safe to do, have, or experience during pregnancy.
Particularly if you were a physically active person before you got pregnant, you may be wondering — among many other questions — what’s safe for you to do while you’re “with child” for the next 40 weeks. More specifically, if you consider yourself an avid runner, you may be wondering if you’ll be able to continue your favorite passion while you’re growing your progeny.
Below, I’ll offer some tips to help you run safely through pregnancy.
First things first: get medical clearance. The internet can be a wonderful resource and a great way to learn new information, but when it comes to anything related to your health — especially when you’re pregnant — it’s best to defer to your own medical team. Before assuming that you can safely continue to run during your pregnancy, bring up the topic at your next midwife or OB appointment. Your medical practitioner’s advice and direction should supercede anything that you read online.
Evaluate your pre-pregnancy experiences. Assuming that you’ve gotten the ok from your provider to continue to run during pregnancy, before you go out and hit the pavement, consider what your running looked like pre-pregnancy. What type of mileage were you running each week? Were you doing hard, weekly workouts and long runs? Were you spending most of your mileage on pavement each week, on trails, or a combination of the two? Many practitioners will say that if you were regularly running before you got pregnant, that (all things considered) you can continue doing it during your pregnancy. It’s safe to assume that you shouldn’t try to do anything during pregnancy that you haven’t done before, so before embarking on this new chapter in your running life, you may find it helpful to evaluate where you’ve been and what you’ve done before in your recent running history.
Be realistic. One of the most important things you can do for your running while pregnant is to simply be realistic with your expectations. Pregnancy is unpredictable, and even if you’ve been pregnant before (and have run during your previous pregnancies), your experiences with each pregnancy can vary dramatically. In addition, some runners no longer wear their watches when they’re pregnant, so they don’t get down and out or care much about their paces. Be willing to scale down your expectations about what your body can or can’t do while you’re pregnant.
Be flexible; write your running plans “in feather.” Closely related to the earlier point about being realistic, one of the other most important things you can do for your running while you’re pregnant is to simply be and remain flexible. It’s awesome to set weekly or monthly running goals while you’re pregnant, but it’s more important that you remain flexible and be willing to just go with the flow. It’s inevitable that some days, you will feel pretty awful — morning sickness isn’t limited just to mornings, unfortunately! — whereas other days, you’ll actually feel really awesome, without much rhyme or reason. Go with the flow. If you feel like running, and you feel well, go for it; if you feel miserable and ill, don’t push yourself.
Run for the fun of it. When you’re pregnant, any running goals you realize will be a far, far distant second to you and your fetus’s continued health and wellness. It’s ok and worthwhile to set goals, as I mentioned above, but I think most people ultimately get the most enjoyment from their pregnant running experiences simply when they run for the fun of it. Running is an activity that binds us to our ancestors from thousands of years ago, and it’s one of the first things we learn to do as children. Simply being able to propel our bodies in a forward motion, regardless of speed, is a lot of fun and can make us feel fantastic. It doesn’t matter how far or how fast you go, either. If you want to run while you’re pregnant, do it just for the joy of the sport. You may find that approaching your running in this way provides you with an amazing “reset” and appreciation of the sport that can be hard to get, or that you may have even lost earlier, when your head is always down as you work hard to realize your goals.
Listen to your body! Finally, it’s imperative that you listen to your body if you decide to run while you’re pregnant. Not very long ago, physicians used to advise that pregnant women keep their heart rates lower than a certain value — and thus, basically keep it easy during their pregnancy — but those recommendations have since been repealed. Just think of it like this: if you’re going to run while you’re pregnant, do it in a way that will allow you to freely and easily chat with others. It’s ok to work hard, but more often than not, you should be able to easily carry on a conversation on the go with your friends. Some women still decide to wear heart rate monitors, others insist on wearing belly bands — it’s ultimately up to you to do what makes you feel good and what is most comfortable. Listening to your body — and not always blindly following the advice or direction of other pregnant women — will be one of the best things you can do for yourself and your growing fetus.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t that long ago that people feared that a pregnant, exercising woman would lose her uterus or her growing fetus if she did anything but remain in bed for the duration of her pregnancy. Fortunately, science has come a long way, and now the science backs the positive health effects and outcomes that exercise has on a pregnant woman and her growing fetus. Before jumping into any sort of pregnant exercise routine, however, it’s important to get clearance from your provider. If you’re able to exercise while you’re pregnant, not only will you be doing something beneficial for the health of you and your child, you’ll also be creating some of the earliest memories with your kiddo that you’ll be able to share with him/her later in life.
Author, Innovator, Sock Lover, Yoga Teacher, and a Travel Blogger. I used to think that you could just go get a pen and write anything under the sky.