So you’ve got a bun in the oven and are wondering about staying in shape during your pregnancy … even if it’s a different shape! While you might be banned from weightlifting and contact sports, there are still plenty of fitness activities you can engage in, including running.
First, let’s take a minute to talk about the perks of a fit pregnancy. Not only does it make you feel better and help you gear up for labor, it brings a raft of other benefits as well, such as:
- Lower risk of gestational diabetes
- Stronger core, helpful in speeding up labor
- More energy
- Reduced back pain and constipation
- A healthier baby
Having said that, there are still a few factors you need to take into consideration before hitting the pavement. Below, we’ll talk five DOS and five DON’TS when it comes to an active pregnancy. That way, you can feel your best and keep your growing babe hearty without compromising your health or safety. Let’s do this.
- Consult Your Doctor
As with everything else in pregnancy, you should consult your doctor, midwife or health provider. They’ll be able to tell you whether an exercise is safe not only for pregnant women in general, but for your pregnancy in particular. There may be special risk factors associated with your baby, and you should always take those into account before starting or continuing an exercise regimen.
Note that even if your doctor tells you that you can do something such as run, that doesn’t necessarily make it a good idea. If something is painful, uncomfortable, unpleasant or simply doesn’t feel right, stop right away until you’ve seen your medical provider.
- Get Proper Nutrition
It’s crucial that you get proper nutrition while working out, because exercise can be especially depleting during pregnancy. This means eating healthy, well-rounded meals and taking prenatal vitamins to supplement your diet. Always eat plenty of protein right after you run, as well as an hour or two before you work out.
- Support Your Body
Never forget to wear supportive shoes when running; your feet are dealing with enough right now. Also wear a top that keeps growing belly and breasts in place. Check out the BLANQI top featured by Women’s Running, which offers tons of support and a whole lot of cuteness to boot.
- Stay Hydrated
Getting enough water is crucial in pregnancy, because the baby uses so much. Dehydration can lead to poor outcomes for you and the little one, including neural tube defects, premature pregnancy and low breast milk production later. Keep your system and the baby’s amniotic sac flushed by drinking lots of H2O.
- Pick a Flat Surface
Running on uneven surfaces increases your chance of a fall, which can hurt both you and the baby. Instead, choose flat surfaces such as tracks, sidewalks or gravel trails. Alternatively, you can choose low-impact alternatives such as water running (which studies have shown to be better for people with compromised joints) or fast-paced walking.
- Don’t Start Running During Pregnancy If You Didn’t Run Before
It’s very, very important that you don’t start running during pregnancy if you weren’t a runner before. Pregnancy brings many changes in your body, including a loosening of joints due to the hormone relaxin, and vigorous exercise to which you are unaccustomed can do more harm than good. Therefore, this is not the time to start a new regimen or train for that marathon you always dreamed of. That doesn’t mean you can’t do it ever; just don’t do it now.
- Don’t Try to Set a New Record
Like the above tip emphasizes, this isn’t the time to try something new or hit your most intense goals. Although it’s always important to listen to your body and avoid pushing yourself too hard – which can lead to injury – this is especially important in pregnancy. Your body already has to adjust to new demands on muscles, joints and bones in the form of extra weight. Don’t add extra impact as well.
You can, however, push yourself in other, safer ways. If you’re still craving movement, go for longer walks. If you want to engage in intense cardio more often, try high-intensity interval training (HIIT) on an elliptical. This allows you to get your sweat on without harming your joints. Again, though, get a doctor’s approval before jumping on.
- Don’t Ignore the Warning Signs
If anything seems wrong, that could mean it is, so don’t ignore it. Vaginal bleeding, dizziness, headaches or chest pains shouldn’t be taken lightly. Instead, stop immediately and consult your healthcare provider. Do not begin any form of exercise again until you have been cleared by your doctor, midwife or other provider, because it might not be safe for you or the baby.
- Don’t Overheat
Getting too hot can lead to neural tube defects, which can in turn result in major birth defects. Avoid this by staying hydrated and staying out of the sun on hot summer days. Exercise gently, so that you don’t get too hot, and take cool showers afterwards.
- Don’t Be Hard On Yourself!
The last and most important tip is don’t be too hard on yourself. Remember that you’re growing a life and that’s a really tough, demanding, important job. It is, moreover, a job that doesn’t last very long, so it’s worth doing it right while it’s happening. The best way to avoid beating yourself up is to refuse to focus on what you used to be able to do, and instead focus on what you can do now. Atta girl.
Running while pregnant is a great way to stay in shape and ensure you and your baby are the healthiest you can be. Just make sure that you’re prepared for the load you’re putting on your body and don’t endanger your own safety, and you’ll be fine. Ready … set … go!