Many pregnant women may worry about whether or not it is safe to run during a pregnancy. The good news is, as long as you were a runner prior to pregnancy and you get the all-clear from your doctor, then running is not only considered safe, but also encouraged as a way to keep you and the baby healthy. Despite this, mamas-to-be may understandably be unsure of the best and safest ways to continue running. Here are some tips for safely incorporating running into your pregnancy exercise routine.
1. Listen to your body. If you are feeling sick or nauseous, which is especially common during early pregnancy, it may be better to slow down your pace or switch to walking. The same applies if you are running and start to feel dizzy or lightheaded--this is a sign that your heart rate is up too high or you haven't fueled your body properly before your run. In either case, listen to what your body is telling you and trust your instincts about when to push harder and when to stop.
2. Hydrate before and after. Prior to running, it's essential to make sure that you are drinking enough water. Professional advice varies, but it's generally accepted knowledge that pregnant women should be drinking at least 10 cups of water a day--and this number should be even higher if you are losing water through exercise. On your run, bring a bottle of water or a drink such as Gatorade or even Pedialyte to help restore water and electrolytes.
3. Honor your changing body. The farther along you are in your pregnancy, the bigger your body becomes--and the more trouble you will have with balance. You may have to adjust your gait or speed in order to compensate for these changes. Used to trail running, miles from civilization? You may need to adjust your running location to an area that has easily accessible restrooms, as the growing uterus places additional pressure on the bladder and can increase the number of restroom visits pregnant women need to make in one day. Also, pregnancy hormones can loosen ligaments in areas such as the pelvis in preparation for childbirth. This can cause additional pain or soreness during or after a run and make pregnant women more prone to injury, and women should change their running form and properly stretch before and after a run.
4. Adjust your expectations. Accustomed to running sub-20 minute 5Ks or training for long-distance races? Although you may be able to keep up those paces and distances, you should enter your pregnancy running journey by being willing to adjust those goals to accommodate your changing body. You may find you need to slow down the pace, decrease the number of miles, or switch from straight running to run-walk intervals as your pregnancy progresses. A general rule of thumb is that as long as you running at a pace at which you can maintain a conversation, then you are running at a pregnancy-safe pace.
All of the above tips and advice are not considered medical advice; to decide what is best for your individual pregnancy and unique needs, consult a doctor and determine a plan of action together. Also, if you were not a runner prior to pregnancy, then a pregnancy is not a good time to begin. The important thing to remember is that running is one of many exercises that is considered very beneficial and can contribute to a healthy pregnancy if conducted in a safe manner.