If you were a runner prior to getting pregnant, you can continue to run as long as you adjust your runs over time and as your belly gets bigger. If you didn’t run before you got pregnant, now is not the time to start a running routine.
Here are 10 tips to keep you and your baby safe when running while pregnant:
#1 – An hour before exercise, eat a snack with complex carbs, protein and a little fat. Drink about a cup (eight ounces) of water for every 15 minutes of exercise. Please also read the Runner’s Diet – for breastfeeding & pregnancy.
#2 – You need to stop exercising and seek medical attention if any of the following occur: vaginal bleeding, regular painful contractions, amniotic fluid leakage, difficulty breathing before starting exercise, dizziness, headache, chest pain, muscle weakness and calf pain or swelling. Overall listen to your body!
#3 – Gauge your level of intensity by using Rate of Perceived Exertion or the Talk Test.
#4 – Aim for exercise less than 45-50 minutes at a time. Avoid hot and humid environments. If you exercise more than 50 minutes, please check out the Fit Pregnancy suggestions.
#5 – Strength training and stretching is an important component of running. It keeps muscles pliable and strong, which help prevent injury. Use our pregnancy workouts as a supplement to your running routine.
#6 – Running is an aerobic exercise, which can be done everyday if you were running everyday prior to becoming pregnant. Aerobic, otherwise known as cardiovascular exercise, is designed to improve the level of fitness of your heart, lungs, and the circulatory system. The benefits of cardiovascular exercises are still present 6-12 months after birth. This is why we see some professional runners with better race times after pregnancy.
#7 – It’s usually pelvic pressure and comfort levels that keep you from running later in pregnancy. You can use a belly band for comfort.
#8 – Don’t be embarrassed about Urinary Incontinence – otherwise known as peeing your pants. Your core/trunk is a transfer station for everything that goes on in your body. Running dramatically increases the amount of force through the core, pelvic floor and legs. This is an important reason for activating your TA and PF (see point #9). The pelvic floor’s primary job is to keep that baby in and then afterwards to keep your insides … well … in. Think of it as a hammock that holds your bladder and reproductive organs in and attaches to the front and back of your pelvis. These muscles work all day long. 24/7. They work in conjunction with the TA to stabilize the core. Any insufficiencies in these muscles can cause pain, incontinence and altered movement. A study by Poswiata in 2014, found that 45.54% of the 112 elite female endurance athletes (non-pregnant runners and cross-country skiers) polled, suffered from incontinence. It is so common ladies! We are not alone!
#9 – Don’t forget the deep muscles of the pelvis and core. The pelvic floor is the bottom of your core, affected by simply being pregnant. To keep your core healthy during pregnancy you should incorporate transverse abdominis and pelvic floor exercises.
#10 – Be aware of the gradual change in your center of gravity. Later in your pregnancy this can lead to a change in balance, so some doctors will recommend you run outside instead of using a treadmill. As always listen to your body. If you are tired and feeling clumsy, skip running so you can eliminate any possible trauma to your belly.
During the First Trimester – Feelings of fatigue and nausea make you want to hug your pillow. But if you have other little ones running around, you know that you have to find some energy somewhere. And just 10-15 minutes of exercise can help boost your energy.
During the Second Trimester – Partway through the second trimester your cardiac output is up 30-40% above pre-pregnancy levels. So what does this mean? More blood = More oxygen to the muscles = More endurance. Does that mean go run a marathon? No, but it does mean during the second trimester you might be able to do more. Although you should never get to the point of exhaustion or fatigue.
During the Third Trimester – Relaxin, the hormone that let’s your pelvis and rib cage expand to fit your baby, has also created loose joint stability. This creates more flexibility, but it also creates an environment for injury if you are not careful. All the postural changes are probably altering your sense of balance. You tend to “waddle” as you walk. This is because your gait (the way you move) is changing to adapt to the extra 20-35 lbs.
In my Prenatal & Postnatal Fitness Course we chat about marathons during pregnancy, elite runners benefits and faster running times postpartum, case studies, safe practices and more! If you are interested in learning more check out the Prenatal & Postnatal Fitness Specialist!