There are many questions a runner asks herself when she gets pregnant. The most common one is, “Can I still run while pregnant?” The answer is YES you can do any activity as long as you did it before you were pregnant--primarily sports that are low impact or low risk of falling.
However, always consult with your doctor first.
Reason to keep running during pregnancy:
While everyone's body is a bit different, there are many benefits to continuing to run during pregnancy:
Improved cardiovascular function, body image, and psychological health.
150 minutes a week may reduce the risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, preterm birth, and the need for a Caesarean section.
Improve your baby’s brain development.
Endorphins are related during exercise that improve both your physical and mental health, as well as relieve anxiety.
Exercise during pregnancy have easier, faster laborers, you feel better postpartum, and recovery is much quicker.
As long as you have an uncomplicated pregnancy, some medical experts say there’s no harm in maintaining your current exercise routine - there's little to no evidence that running can cause miscarriages or hurt the baby. “The baby is pretty isolated and protected during pregnancy.”
Despite all the benefits of continuing to run during your pregnancy, there are some challenges and obstacles to overcome.
Bouncing: Wearing a supportive belly band is great to help stabilize a growing belly
Balance: A shift in your center of gravity will effect your balance and this can put you at risk for falling, especially if you’re running on uneven trails
Relaxin: Injuries can happen because your joints and ligaments become looser, your body is producing the hormone called relaxin to relax ligaments in your pelvis.
Staying Cool: high body temp above 102 degrees may cause neural tube defects. As a runner, don’t be overly concerned about this because it’s unlikely that exercise will increase body temperatures to a dangerous level. Certain activities like hot yoga, hot tubs, and saunas can increase your body temperature to above 102. So, it's best to avoid those things during pregnancy.
A Few of My Favorite Running While Pregnant Things:
Here are a few of the things that helped me get through running while pregnant:
FRIENDS: Running with friends. Having a regular schedule a few times a week. I consistently ran 3-4 times during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters.
This is what a typical running week looked like for me during my pregnancy:
DOGS: Dogs provided added assistance and also count as “friends” to run with. I have two Vizsla’s and they were my best and much needed running companions, especially in that 3rd trimester.
BELLY BAND: I started wearing a belly band in the 2nd trimester, I consider it a must! My personal favorite is the AZMED Maternity Belly Band.
SHOES: You'll probably need shoes that are a little longer, wider and offer more cushion. Feel free to ask me for my favorite running shoe recommendations.
I don’t consider myself an expert when it comes to running while pregnant, however I had two healthy babyies and I ran throughout my pregnancies. Additionally, they were both considered geriatric pregnancies. My first pregnancy was a c-section and my second was a VBAC 18-months later. I ran a lot more with my second pregnancy compared to my first.
Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about continuing to run while pregnant or about endurance training in general.
Coach Jillian is a professional triathlete who has competed at races around the world. She specialized in non-drafting Olympic distance races, specifically the Lifetime Fitness Series and 5150 series which qualified her for the prestigious Hy-Vee Triathlon from 2011-2014. Jillian graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in Nutrition and Fitness and is now an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer. She continues to race as a Guide for Elizabeth Baker on the USAT Para National Team.