Running While Pregnant?
Yes, as Long as You Listen to Your Body
Is it safe to run while pregnant? This is a question we often hear, and it’s completely understandable. Many women wonder if continuing their regular running routine might harm their unborn baby. However, research is increasingly showing the opposite: exercise during pregnancy is actually beneficial, as long as you pay attention to your body. In this article, we’ll explain how this works and when you can start running again after giving birth.
‘Continuing’ to run is recommended by the WHO
Almost half of pregnant women who were regular runners before pregnancy stop running during their pregnancy. Moreover, only 3 to 15% of pregnant women engage in sufficient physical activity. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that pregnant women engage in “150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, spread over several days.” However, it’s not surprising that many pregnant women stop or reduce their physical activity. Historically, they were rarely included in sports science research, and it wasn’t until 2020 that the WHO advised that it is safe to continue running during pregnancy. It’s crucial to note that the word ‘continue’ is significant. If you weren’t a regular runner before pregnancy, it’s not recommended to suddenly take it up.
Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy
Exercise, including running, is very beneficial during pregnancy:
- It reduces the risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and excessive weight gain.
- It decreases the risk of postnatal depression.
- It improves the quality of sleep and cardiovascular fitness of the pregnant woman.
- It reduces the risk of chronic diseases in your baby.
Be Extra Attentive to Your Body
Although running is healthy and possible during pregnancy, it’s essential to be extra attentive to your body. Always listen to your body, just as you would have done before pregnancy to prevent injuries or aggravation of existing ones. However, during pregnancy, this becomes even more crucial. Adapt the intensity of your workouts to a level where you feel comfortable. Pay more attention to your hydration than usual, as dehydration is harmful not only to you but also to your baby.
Be Cautious with Distance and Intensity
It’s important not to suddenly increase the duration or intensity of your runs compared to your pre-pregnancy routine. If you used to do interval training while running, you can still continue as long as you stay hydrated and make sure you feel good. While there is now more research indicating that running during pregnancy is beneficial, there isn’t much information available regarding high-intensity running or long distances during pregnancy. If you’re unsure about interval training or notice that it’s challenging, consider taking a gentler run. Often, it may seem fine during the training session, but you might feel the impact later in the day or the next day. In such cases, make sure your subsequent workouts are gentler. Exercise is beneficial as long as it feels good and doesn’t cause discomfort. So, make sure you don’t push yourself too hard.
Growing Belly = Altered Balance
It may seem obvious, but remember that your body is changing, and you’ll notice it while running. Your growing belly shifts your balance, changing the center of gravity of your body. You must be aware of this to prevent falls at all costs. What may have felt fine last week may feel very different this week. This is not only due to your expanding belly but also because your joints, muscles, and tendons are changing due to hormonal shifts and the increasing weight in your abdomen. Many women switch to less intense forms of exercise later in pregnancy because they find that the impact and intensity of running become too challenging. This is perfectly acceptable. Ensure that you stay vigilant and move (literally) within the limits of what your pregnant body allows.
When Can You Start Running Again After Giving Birth?
After giving birth, you might be eager to put on your running shoes again, but it’s advisable to wait. The timing varies from person to person, and it can be very different after a second birth compared to the first. In general, it’s recommended not to resume running until at least 3 to 6 months after childbirth, if possible. Ensure that you have properly trained your pelvic floor muscles before starting running again. The workshop “Healthy Recovery after Childbirth” is highly recommended for this purpose. When you do start running again, do so very gently and build up gradually. If you’re still experiencing incontinence, pelvic floor issues, or bleeding, it’s better to give your body more time to recover.
Questions or Advice? Consult Your Midwife in Amsterdam-Zuid
How long you can continue running during your pregnancy depends on many factors. Monitor yourself closely and don’t hesitate to ask for advice if you have any doubts. We’re here to guide you and ensure the health of both you and your baby. You can always turn to your midwife in Amsterdam-Zuid with all your questions. And in between runs, feel free to share a running selfie with us—we’d love that!