Well this post is long overdue, considering I now have a 10 month old. It was one of those things that I thought about writing last year but running during pregnancy was going so well and I didn’t want to jinx it. However, I think being able to reflect on my experience at this point may be even more helpful than if I were to have written it while I was still pregnant. It also means I can share how things turned out AFTER giving birth.
There were many reasons why I planned to run throughout my pregnancy. I wanted to be in good shape for delivery, I wanted to come back stronger, I felt like it would help me to have a healthy pregnancy, and of course it makes me happy! I was absolutely willing to stop running if my body couldn’t handle it or if it would be a risk to my baby, but luckily that was not that case for me.
Please always consult with a medical professional about your individual situation. Also, trust your gut and listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right, back off or get it checked out. Remember, you are only pregnant for 9 months at a time and most of us plan to run for many, many years!
1. Respect the ebbs and flows of pregnancy
During the first trimester I was very nervous and also very tired. So I didn’t run very much at all. I made sure to get in lots of walks because I knew I would eventually want to try running again. I think I started adding back in miles around week 8 or 9.
Once I hit week 12 I started to feel great. I ended up being able to do some long rungs and fartlek workouts during the second trimester. Towards the end of the third trimester things changed significantly. I went back to run/walks and just did the best I could to get moving at least a few times a week. I did 3 miles of run/walking the morning that I gave birth!
2. Get a support band
I started using the Gabriella belt in the 3rd trimester. I needed some more support as my belly grew and the belt made running feel a bit more comfortable.
3. Use the run/walk method
This is especially helpful in the 1st and 3rd trimesters when things might not be feeling so great. If you are doing this, you may want to consider going for time versus distance. For example you can aim to run/walk for 30 minutes which is still a great workout even if you may not cover the same distance that you would have if you ran for 30 minutes straight.
4. Remind yourself that things will be different in a few months
As a first time mom, I had no idea what life would be like after having a baby. It’s impossible to know. But I did know things would be different. I wasn’t quite sure how or when I would be able to run. I didn’t know how long it would take me to recover after childbirth. So I tried to enjoy the freedom to run whenever I wanted, knowing that after having a baby my priorities would be much different.
5. Make use of the treadmill
While I love running outside, the treadmill can definitely be a useful tool. Especially when you are pregnant. My due date was in December which meant that by the time I was 35 weeks along it was really cold out. I didn’t have many warm running clothes that fit. I had to pee all the time. And I felt awkward and needed to walk alot. So the treadmill was a great option. I could take bathroom breaks whenever I needed, I could wear whatever clothes I could find that fit, and I could just go for as long as I wanted and stop whenever I needed to.
6. Buy some maternity workout clothes
As I mentioned above, I didn’t have many running clothes that fit once it got cold out. I actually ran in my regular shorts throughout my entire pregnancy. This was great except now some of them are stretched out. I did buy one pair of maternity leggings and a few tops. Sometimes I borrowed running shirts from my husband but I just felt uncomfortable in them. If you are planning to work out as long as you can during pregnancy, it’s worth investing in a few items.
7. Ignore your pace
As soon as I got pregnant my pace slowed significantly. I couldn’t believe that having a baby the size of a blueberry in my belly could make me run 2 minutes/mile slower than usual. Although my pace slowed right away, it pretty much hovered in the same place until like week 38 when I was walking more and running became more of a waddle. I just focused on the fact that I was running and who cares how fast I’m going?
8. Don’t neglect your strength training
I did 2 strength training workouts each week and I really think it helped me to run through my pregnancy. I also think it helped me to return to running after my c-section. All your joints get so loose and relaxed when pregnant, so it’s important to keep your muscles strong to keep everything aligned as it should be.
9. Consider seeing a chiropractor
Going along with the strength training, a chiropractor can also help with alignment and keeping your body moving well. I went to the chiropractor 1-2x/month throughout my entire pregnancy and I think it was really helpful. (Note: now that I have an infant, I NEVER go anymore because there is no time!)
10. Take lots of running selfies
Ok, this one is kind of just for fun. I always take lots of pics while I run. In order to do this I usually set my phone in video mode and then take screenshots. So now I can look back on my pictures and videos from last year and see what I looked like and how I was running throughout different times in my pregnancy. It’s so weird to see how much things changed over those 9 months! I didn’t take maternity photos but I do have dozens of running pictures throughout my pregnancy to one day show my son.
Honestly part of my motivation for running during pregnancy was that I wanted to be in good shape for childbirth. The irony is that I ended up having a c-section. However, I was able to start running again 8 or 9 weeks after surgery and have had a great return to running since then (I am now 10 months postpartum). There are many good reasons to run or work out while pregnant.
BUT there are also many good reasons to NOT run or even work out while pregnant. Would I have been upset if I couldn’t run during pregnancy? Of course. But in the grand scheme of things it would not have been a big deal. It is much more important to take care of yourself and your baby. Even if you don’t work out at all during pregnancy, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a positive childbirth experience or a strong return to running postpartum.
Keep in mind that your mental health is just as important, if not more important that your physical health. It’s all connected. If you can’t run try to find something that will give you those same endorphins. If you are finding that working out during pregnancy just makes you frustrated, then it’s probably not going to be very helpful!
There is so much more to say about running during pregnancy, but I will leave it at that for now. I hope that if you are expecting that you have an enjoyable and uneventful pregnancy, and that if you want to run that it is something you can continue doing!
If you have kids, did you run during pregnancy?
What other tips do you have for running during pregnancy?
If you are pregnant now, what are your fitness goals during or after pregnancy?