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You’ve recently learned that you’re pregnant: congratulations!
So much is going to change in the next 10 months. You may already be puzzled with questions about what you should expect or what you’ll have to change in your life.
There is, understandably, a ton of information out there, and some of it’s conflicting. Moreover, your parents, family members, relatives, or even strangers might also all be throwing information at you. It can be totally overwhelming and even a little annoying!
Pregnancy & Exercise
One of the biggest changes in understanding pregnancy in recent years is related to pregnancy and exercise. It wasn’t long ago when people use to think that all pregnant women should be bedridden for the duration of their pregnancies.
Exercising during pregnancy was a preposterous idea and completely out the question. These days, fortunately, it’s easy to find tons of pregnant women exercising all over the world, and there are dedicated fitness communities working on safely exercising while pregnant.
We’ve come a long way in a short time, baby!
Running During Pregnancy: Myth Vs. Reality
What about running while you’re pregnant? Or, is it safe to jog while pregnant?
Our understanding of running and pregnancy has also shifted in the past century. Gone are the fears that a pregnant woman running would essentially make her uterus (and growing fetus) fall out. Also, it’s no more concern that a pregnant woman need to maintain a certain, hard-and-fast heart rate.
Of course, there are still some concerns and considerations that pregnant women need to take while running. However, in most cases women who were running before they were pregnant can — and should! — continue doing their thing for as long as they’d like during pregnancy.
4 Tips for Running While Pregnant:
Below, I’ll describe some additional considerations that pregnant women ought to take if they decide to run throughout their pregnancy. Please note that I’m not a medical professional. So any advice and guidance that you get from your own doctor or midwife supersedes mine.
Consult an Expert:
Most docs and midwives will be supportive of their pregnant patients continuing to run. However, play it safe and ask first. Unless you have a medical condition that may warrant additional care and concern, your medical professionals will likely tell you to continue exercising as before you got pregnant.
You want to feel as comfortable as possible for as long as you can during your pregnancy. If running helps you feel comfortable, or feel like yourself, then by all means, get on with it.
Don’t Worry About Your Heart Rate:
Back in the days, the medical community used to think that pregnant women needed to keep their heart rates under 140 while exercising (and in particular, running). While a good idea in theory, this recommendation was a bit shortsighted. It failed to account for women whose heart rates were naturally much higher or lower to begin with.
Instead of focusing on staying under 140 beats per minute while you run, concentrate on keeping your pace nice and comfortable. Ideally, you should be able to hold a conversation with your training partner(s).
Be Wary on Trails As Your Pregnancy Progresses:
Your medical practitioner will likely tell you to be careful throughout your entire pregnancy but especially during your last trimester. By then, you will feel pretty big and uncomfortable as your belly bulges more and more each day. Your center of gravity will feel completely off, making you feel a bit more likely to fall. So obviously, that’s not going to be good for you or your growing fetus.
With that keep in mind, I’d encourage pregnant runners to be wary on trails, especially ones that are particularly challenging and technical. Run trails for as long as you’d like during your pregnancy, but perhaps consider in your 3rd trimester to take things down a notch, out of an abundance of caution. Continue to run trails if you’d like to, but maybe stick to the fire roads or the lower elevations for the final term. Make sure you wear a comfortable pair of running shoes while you run.
Listen to Your Body!
My most important piece of advice for women who want to run during their pregnancy is simple: listen to your body! Some days, you will absolutely not feel like running. You may instead feel completely sick to your stomach or like you were hit by a truck. Other days you may feel completely devoid of energy.
If you don’t want to run one day (or one week, or one month — whatever!) during your pregnancy, then don’t force yourself to. Instead, just go for a walk. Conversely, when you feel like running, get out there and do it.
Don’t think that just because one day you feel like trash will mean that you’ll always feel that bad every day for the rest of your pregnancy. Try to take things day by day and not get too far ahead of yourself (which can be very hard to do, especially during pregnancy, I acknowledge). Listen to any feedback your body gives you, and if something feels off or painful, stop immediately.
Chances are high that you’ll run into a pregnant runner on the streets or trails, during her morning ritual, or at a race. When you see her, give her a hearty high-five or a fist bump. Trust that she’s doing the right thing for her and her pregnancy.
For so long, the medical community and society treated pregnant women as porcelain dolls, fragile little beings who couldn’t handle the stress and rigor of exercising while pregnant. Fortunately, the tide has begun to turn. Some experts suggest that running or exercising while pregnant can also be a huge help come labor and delivery time — which in and of itself may be compelling enough of a reason to keep at it.