Being physically active while you are expecting a baby is a healthy decision in many ways. It contributes to a woman’s general health, may help her reduce some pregnancy signs and symptoms like morning sickness or backaches, and being fit may set women up for an easier labor and birth, too. But not all forms of exercise are safe during pregnancy. Can you continue running while you are pregnant? Are there any risks?
One of my friends, who is an avid runner, is also an OBGYN. According to her, running during pregnancy is fine – as long as you feel good and do not experience unusual pains. She says there are no special risks to the growing baby. Because a woman’s joints are looser while she is pregnant, due to pregnancy hormones, it is important to pay closer attention to your body, as there is a higher chance of injury.
My own OB didn’t agree with that assessment. I asked her about running in the first trimester when I was trying to get pregnant with my first child, and she said that gentler forms of working out were safe, but that running increases the risk of miscarriage. My OB told me that this is related to the position and strength of the uterus, and that jogging after the first trimester is safer. This view is not one I have come across elsewhere, but women who are in the process of deciding whether to keep running or take a break while they are pregnant should take the fact that opinions among healthcare professionals are divided on this subject into account.
If you decide to keep up running, here are some tips to keep you safe:
- Listen to your body. Stop when you feel pain.
- Make sure to stay properly hydrated – this is always important of course, but especially during pregnancy.
- Take it easy. Take regular breaks.
- Make sure your heartbeat stays under 150 beats per minute.
- Some runners say that inserting a thick tampon helps support the cervix while you run.
I decided to stay active during both my pregnancies, and I ran around three times a week – four kilometers in 30 minutes. No, that’s not very fast! But I didn’t want to take any risks. Remember that your body needs around six weeks to recover from childbirth. It is a good idea to wait until your postpartum checkup to start running again – the pelvic floor needs this time to recover. It is also important to refrain from doing ab crunches too early, as it can cause permanent diastasis recti.