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I’ve run through three pregnancies. Each time I have learned something new about myself and about the female body. It was during my second pregnancy in 2012 that I ran the most, running up until my due date. Afterwards I was eager to regain my fitness and I returned to running too soon. Frequent leaking and a “falling out” feeling told me there was something wrong. I sought the help of a women’s health physical therapist. With the pelvic floor weakness corrected, I approached running during my third pregnancy this year much more conservatively and haven’t had any issues since. In fact, after having my third baby in May, my fitness is now leaps and bounds above where it was after my first and second pregnancy, even though I waited longer this time before returning to running postpartum.
With all these experiences under my belt, here are a few things I’ve learned about what to do and not to do when it comes to running during pregnancy:
Speak to your doctor about running through pregnancy and if it is advisable for you and your baby. Find out what they recommend in regards to your specific situation, since every woman and every pregnancy is different.
Take it easy. Pregnancy is a great time to ease back on the intensity and let your body set the pace.
Make an appointment with a women’s health Physical Therapist. Often times a physical therapist will be more knowledgeable regarding exercise during pregnancy and it’s impact on the pelvic floor than your doctor. A prenatal and postnatal appointments can help guide you through an active and healthy pregnancy. They can also help you return more quickly postpartum. It’s better to seek out help before there’s an issue (like leakage) than try to correct the issue afterwards.
Run through pain or discomfort. As runners we’re often accustomed to pushing through soreness. Running while pregnant is generally uncomfortable–our bodies just don’t feel the same. But pregnancy is not the time to push yourself. Stay in tune with you body. Don’t be afraid to stop and walk or cease running altogether to find an alternative activity.
Ignore leaking. If you’re leaking pee on a run, it’s a sign that your pelvic floor is weakened, both by hormones and the downward pressure of carrying a baby. Leaking isn’t normal and can be remedied with physical therapy.
Coming back too quickly. Returning to running too soon after labor and delivery can be harmful long term. It’s important to allow the muscles, tendons and ligaments of your pelvic floor to regain their strength before putting strain on them again through running. The body’s natural healing time is 6-8 weeks and it’s advisable to take a more conservative approach to your return.
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