When I was pregnant with my first child I read a book, The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy by Vicki Lovine. Mrs. Lovine never worked out while pregnant. For her it wasn’t worth it. She was worried she’d risk the life of her unborn child and asked her readers, could you live with it if it was your fault? I was terrified. I knew nothing about pregnancy and decided to take her advice. So I did nothing. I sat on the couch. I watched TV, I ate, I slept, and I got depressed. My husband was deployed, I had recently moved to the area and was unemployed. Dropping my almost daily gym routine left pretty much nothing for me to do. About 8 weeks after I read her book I was sitting on the couch watching TV and crying.
Why was I crying? I missed my husband. I missed my old life. I missed working out. Then I thought, why in the world am I taking one person’s opinion as fact when I haven’t done any research myself? This thought woke me up, and I decided to do my own research and make my own choices.
I found a pregnancy exercise class with a certified expert in pregnancy fitness. I joined the class and I was absolutely amazed by the amount of work she expected from pregnant women. I was expecting gentle yoga, and instead we did squats and lunges, lifted weights, cycled, and stepped. I worked out just as hard if not harder in her classes than I had when I wasn’t pregnant! I also did online research for myself, and she gave out a guidebook on pregnancy and postnatal exercise. I didn’t run during my first pregnancy because I didn’t consider myself a runner. I was afraid to fall on my face, but I did lift weights daily and walked the fastest I could on the highest treadmill incline.
When I was pregnant with my third child I was able to run a lot! In addition to many 5ks and 10ks, I also did two half marathons (one at 6 months pregnant and one at 7 months pregnant, both while pushing my double stroller) and one triathlon at 37 weeks, 4 days. The military doctors I was seeing were incredibly supportive of my exercise. They knew about every race I ever did and had full confidence in my abilities. One of my doctors commented that she is nervous about a woman who exercises a lot when her weight gain during pregnancy doesn’t keep up with her pregnant peers. I actually gained more weight with my 3rd pregnancy (by 10lbs) even though it was my most active pregnancy. My other doctor (I saw 2 consistently during this pregnancy) said he believed the extra weight gain was because I built more muscle carrying around extra weight while working out.
I am currently 8 months pregnant with baby #4. I’m guessing you think I’m running marathons this time? Wrong! I did run a half marathon at 10 weeks pregnant, but this pregnancy has been very different than the others. This time I had to stop running at 6 months due to back, hip and knee pain. It has been mentally challenging to not be able to be as physically active as I’m used to, but I know that God only gave me one body. I have to take care of it if I want it to last me my lifetime (which I do!). There will be plenty of time in the later years for me to get my runs in and I’ll stick to walking for exercise for now.
- Every body is different and every pregnancy is different (even if it’s a pregnancy in the same body!). DO NOT compare yourself to others or even to your prior self. Take every day as it is and make decisions based on how you are feeling now.
- Hydrate! It is proven that dehydration can cause contractions. We don’t want contractions until your baby is full term. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
- Talk with your doctor. Make sure you don’t have any of the conditions that would make exercise during your pregnancy unwise and unsafe.
- During pregnancy, I never try to PR (set a personal record). I do race, but I’m racing for the enjoyment of the experience and to support friends. I don’t push myself as hard as I would not pregnant. I relax, enjoy the experience and “mosie along.”
- Listen to your body. Take a walk break if you need to. Stop if something doesn’t feel right. Your body is amazing at telling you what is going on with it, you just have to be a good listener.
- Don’t expect that just because you’ve had one bad run, running is over for you. Your center of gravity is changing so quickly that the next day or even the next week might be better.
Have you been able to run through a pregnancy? What are your ‘rules’ for pregnant running?