By: ExploreHealth Content Team
When you find out you are pregnant, questions flood to your mind about every aspect of life – eating, sleeping, medication, travel and more. But if you are a runner, you find yourself asking many more questions.
Always consult with your doctor or midwife about any questions you may have specific to your own condition and risk factors. Some pregnancy problems will absolutely place restrictions on your activity level. If you suffer from placenta previa, preterm labor, short cervix, preeclampsia, or a growth restricted baby, it’s going to be time-out from running until after your baby arrives.
Generally speaking, if you ran regularly before getting pregnant, it may be okay to continue — as long as you take some precautions if you are having an uncomplicated pregnancy. Women who exercise while pregnant have lower rates of diabetes and preeclampsia, and they are less likely to gain an unhealthy amount of weight.
But pregnancy isn’t the time to start a running routine. Pregnancy is also not the time to start training for a marathon, a triathlon, or any other race.
There are two things pregnant women need to be wary of: overheating (specifically in the first trimester) and falling (in the second and third trimesters).
First Trimester Tips
Follow the usual precautions, such as drinking lots of water before, during, and after your run. Dehydration can decrease blood flow to the uterus and may even cause premature contractions.
Whether you’re pregnant, running can be hard on your knees. During pregnancy, your joints naturally loosen, which may make you more prone to injury. Wear shoes that give your feet plenty of support, especially around the ankles and arches. Over time you may find that your go to running shoes no longer fit as the joints in your feet also loosen. Invest in a good sports bra to keep your breasts well supported.
The first trimester is when the baby’s major organs are forming, and overheating’s a real issue. If a woman’s core temperature gets too high, it could cause problems with the baby. Instead, train for the marathon of labor by strengthening your abdominal muscles and pelvic floor muscles.
Second trimester tips
Your center of gravity’s shifting as your belly grows, leaving you more vulnerable to slips and falls. For safety, choose to run on flat pavement, such as a track or running path versus running on grass, sand or gravel. Another great option is to walk or run in a swimming pool. The resistance of the water provides a great work-out without the added risk of falling.
Third trimester tips
Be as careful as you’ve been during the first two trimesters. And remember: If you feel too tired to go for a run, listen to your body and take a break. Being sedentary is unhealthy, but pushing yourself too hard is also harmful.
Most pregnant runners find that their jogging pace slows down considerably during the third trimester — a fast walk may be a better choice. As your due date approaches, lower-impact activities like swimming and walking may be more comfortable. Besides brisk walking, swimming and water aerobics are ideal for pregnancy. Water sports carry little chance of physical injury, and water resistance helps tone and strengthen muscles.
Never run to the point of exhaustion or breathlessness. Stop running or jogging immediately and call your doctor or midwife if you have any of the following symptoms:
- vaginal bleeding
- difficulty breathing, especially when resting
- chest pain
- muscle weakness
- calf pain or swelling
- preterm labor (contractions)
- decreased fetal movement
- fluid leakage
Running is a great way to maintain your fitness levels during pregnancy — just remember that pregnancy is not the time to try new things or reach for your personal best. A little extra care and caution will help you reach the goal of a healthy mom and baby!