Running while pregnant is making its way into the mainstream. Previously unrecommended, many women who ran before pregnancy now continue to run well into their third trimester, modifying their approach to the sport as their pregnancy progresses. Why the shift? In part, the recent open-mindedness is due to a greater acceptance and understanding about what our bodies can handle during pregnancy but it’s also part of a greater cultural shift away from previous held ideas that pregnancy was an illness.
There are a number of mothers on social media (myself included!) showing the world their running routines and inspiring mothers-to-be on how to stay healthy during pregnancy. Social media is not always positive and sometimes these images can make women feel upset if they are unable to maintain the same level of fitness as before. They can also cause confusion about whether the images they’re seeing reflect a reality that can exist for many people or just for a few lucky ones. Most health care practitioners now recommend regular physical activity during pregnancy and running can be included if desired. Running during pregnancy however is very much not for everyone and only you can decide if you want to get informed, lace up and take yourself for a run. If you do decide you want to keep up your running routine, there are still a few fundamental dos and don’ts however to consider, particularly during the summer months when temperatures rise and running is harder for everyone, baby bump or not.
Do: Listen to your body
This is likely the most heard advice when talking about prenatal exercise but what does it mean exactly? Essentially it means that your body is very adept at sending signals when you need to slow down. If you feel pain in your belly or hips for example, you may be at the beginning stages of developing sciatica or SPD (Symphysis pubis dysfunction). Listening to your body in this situation would mean slowing down your pace, walking more often than running, checking in with an osteopath or your doctor about the pain and consulting a trained sports coach that can help you decide how you can modify your workout to eliminate these pains.
If you find yourself lightheaded or dizzy, listen to your body as this may be a sign of dehydration or a blood pressure issue. Listening to your body is essentially the opposite of the old sports saying “no pain, no gain”. There is no “pushing through” in pregnancy workouts!
Don’t: Start running for the first time during pregnancy
I’m always up for a challenge but there’s also a time and a place. If you’ve never run before in your life, what are you hoping to gain by picking it up during pregnancy? Running, even a slow jog, is challenging for the body and right now, your body is already dealing with a lot of challenges while growing your baby. The time to learn to run will be available to you for the rest of your life; take these 9 months to focus on growing your little one and stick with an activity that your body is already used to performing. Prenatal Yoga is a great exercise even for beginners.
Do: Dress properly and drink up
Sun stroke is no joke and neither is dehydration. When you’re heading out for your run make sure you’re properly dressed for the weather but also in terms of visibility. Make sure that you’re dressed in bright colours so that cars in both directions can see you.
When the sun is out, a visor or hat is always a good idea. Carry a water bottle with you and some change just in case you need to stop in for a snack along the way. Consider your pre and post run snacks as a crucial part of your training plan and drink water before, during and after. With all that water intake, make sure you also know where you can stop to pee along the way!
Don’t: set a speed or distance goal
If you head out with a preset time or distance in mind, you’re more likely to push yourself to finish even if you’re not feeling well. Let yourself see how the run goes and do the distance that feels good while you’re in the moment. It won’t be your last run and you can hit all those personal bests after pregnancy.
Do: Invest in a support band
A support band is just an elastic band that goes under the belly that helps you feel more supported during your run or run/walk. It’s generally a soft support so don’t expect to feel magically un-pregnant! Just like a good sports bra, a good support band can make your run more comfortable. Look for brands like Medela, Blanqi or try our Kalilawear leggings.
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