Fast forward to my second child, Asher. After I’ve realized that children won’t break at the drop of the hat, I was very curious why some people say to wait eight months before running with a baby. I wanted to do more research for myself and took to the Internet. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of scientific research out there on when to run with a baby in a jogging stroller. What my searches were pulling up was Internet gossip on baby forums. So I decided to make a list of reasons why Internet gossip said you can’t run with a baby in a jogging stroller. I then took each of these ‘reasons’ and researched what was needed to cause them. For example, one woman said you couldn’t run with your baby in a jogging stroller because it would cause a detached retina. So I researched whether a detached retina was possible. If so, what conditions are needed to cause it? My research uncovered that a detached retina is possible, and the force needed to cause it was equivalent to shaken baby syndrome.
After talking with my pediatrician and doing my own research I felt comfortable heading out for a jog at three weeks post partum with baby number two. How was it? It was WEIRD. Asher was fine, he loved the run but I felt totally weird. I could feel my uterus bouncing up and down in my body, and while it didn’t hurt, it was a very creepy sensation. I decided I wanted my organs to settle back down where they were supposed to and finished that day walking. I tried to run again a week later and the creepy sensation was gone. It was awesome! I built back up slowly through walk-run intervals and was back to my normal running self in no time. Asher is now a very happy, confident, well-adjusted, four-year-old who is doing great in his pre-k class.
After baby number three, I think I was over confident in my body’s abilities. I had been very active during this pregnancy (two half marathons pushing a double, triathlon at full term, etc) and thought I would have a super easy transition back to exercise. I started back to running around four weeks post partum and started doing two workouts a day. I’d run in the mornings and lift weights and bicycle in the afternoons. Don’t think I’m completely crazy; I was trying to build up quickly for a 10K race I had signed up for pre-pregnancy (the race was 10 weeks post partum). What happened to me? I had an increase in bleeding among other signs of complications and ended up seeing my doctor earlier than the six-week checkup. She told me I’d done too much too soon and was restricted from ANY exercise for the next three weeks. At eight weeks post partum, I was finally cleared to work out again and started running with baby number three.
So what are my postpartum plans for baby number four? This time I have decided I am going to wait until I am cleared at the six-week postpartum checkup before I run. I am then going to use the C25K app by Zen Labs to build back up to running. I didn’t enjoy having complications and a set back last time around and I want to take things slower this time around.
What you’ve read above is just my experience with building up to running with a baby post partum. One of my favorite things about Stroller Warriors is that the Facebook SW Chapter pages are full of amazing women who will happily share their experiences with you. I’ve seen lots of discussions about this topic on the wall, and they’re always team-oriented and non-judgmental. Everyone is different and therefore will make different choices for their families!
My final words of wisdom for building up post partum are this, GIVE YOURSELF GRACE! It will not be easy. It will be hard work to return to your previous level of fitness with an infant in tow. My intended runs have turned into walks more times than I can count. When I have an infant in tow I always bring: a baby carrier (wrap or Ergo are what I use), diapers and wipes, and a breastfeeding cover that permanently stays with my BOB. I have sat next to the trail breastfeeding and cheering on my fellow SWs more times than I can count and while for the moment it sucks, in the long run I’m okay with it. Babies are only babies for so long. I know that if I’m persistent, eventually baby will be more used to our stroller runs, and we'll eventually be able to run together. I know a half-attempt is better than no attempt at all. Each time I go out I will get stronger, baby may nap longer or have a longer time between feedings. We both have plenty of time to figure out what works for us.