Growing a tiny human inside your tummy, every expectant mum wants to protect their little bundle of joy in every way possible.
But there can be so many questions….
Are you are unsure if exercise like running when pregnant is safe?
Have been told many conflicting things from friends, colleagues and maybe even your Obstetrician?
Have you have always run because it makes you feel good, it relieves your stress and keeps you fit?
Do you need to give it up now that you are pregnant?
Exercise is a great way for an expecting mum to stay fit during her pregnancy. It has been shown through studies that aerobic exercise (such as walking, jogging, stationary cycling, and swimming) can reduce the likelihood of gestational diabetes and speed up postpartum recovery time.
According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (ACOG), a woman should consult with her obstetrics care provider prior to engaging in jogging or running. It may be safe for her to continue to jog or run if she has done so regularly prior to her pregnancy and if her pregnancy is uncomplicated.
Like with any exercise during pregnancy, care must be taken to ensure you are exercising in a safe heart rate zone (check that you are able to comfortably talk) and are well hydrated.
When should I stop running?
Well, this is a tricky one. The most important thing to remember when you are running throughout your pregnancy is to listen to your body. Keep in mind that you likely will not be able to run as far as you normally would prior to being pregnant. You may be out there for the same amount of time (let’s say, half an hour) but you may not cover as much ground as you used to. But this doesn’t mean you aren’t working hard, you definitely ARE! You will maintain fitness as your body boosts both heart capacity and blood volume.
According to ACOG, if at any time during your pregnancy you experience vaginal bleeding, painful contractions, amniotic fluid leakage, placental problems, preeclampsia or shortness of breath before exercising you will need to stop running and consult your Doctor.
Due to lots of hormonal changes during your pregnancy, your ligaments loosen to prepare to birth your baby. These hormonal changes affect the whole body and can sometimes cause pain in the pelvis, lower back and sacroiliac joints and make you a little more prone to injury. If you start experiencing symptoms in these areas, stop running and consult your local physiotherapist.
By the time you reach your third trimester, generally woman have had enough running and their body cannot continue. There can be an increase in lower back and pelvic discomfort and overall tiredness which can lead you to stopping running. At this point, respect your body and if you want to remain active then replace the runs with walks as you are able.
What if I haven’t run before
If you have always wanted to run but have never got around to starting, when you find out that you are pregnant is probably not the right time to start. Your body goes through many changes throughout pregnancy, one in particular being that you centre of gravity changes, which can make you feel wobbly and unbalanced and not safe to run.
If you want to do something to keep yourself fit during pregnancy, why not try pregnancy-based Pilates or Exercise Classes with a trained Physiotherapist to build your strength and flexibility.
Exercises that can help keep you strong, runner or not!
If you are a runner or jogger, there are ways that you can keep your body healthy and strong during your pregnancy by looking after certain muscle areas, in particular your lower back, glutes (hips) and knees. Below are some exercises that you may find beneficial to keep these areas strong. Try and do 2 sets of 15 reps of each, every second day.
Remember to listen to your body, stop if you experience any pain or discomfort, and understand that you will get slower as your pregnancy progresses!