Is running during your pregnancy safe? Many women wonder this.  Can the bouncing harm the baby? Can it cause contractions?  How exactly can you run with an ever-growing belly?  The short answer is yes — if you are a runner.

Running During Your Pregnancy

If you weren’t a runner before becoming pregnant, now isn’t the time to start.  And the reason is simple: your body is undergoing a lot of changes and adding the physical stress of a new workout will only add to your levels of exhaustion.  However, if you were running before your pregnancy, it is safe to continue.

Benefits of Running during your Pregnancy

Like walking, running exists as a great way to exercise your entire body.  Your heart pumps blood, your arms swing, your feet run, and your core maintains your balance.  An endorphin release, or “runner’s high”, occurs more quickly than if you’re merely walking.  And endorphins can be an expectant mother’s best friend: they can both combat moodiness and provide additional energy.  If you’re looking for an exercise to tone your body, increase circulation, and keep the pounds off, running is a good choice.

Drawbacks of Running

Running demands a lot from your knees.  And as you gain weight, your knees may begin to protest running as an exercise.  In addition to gaining weight, your joints loosen during your pregnancy.  Looser joints can result in more injuries, so you’ll need to pay attention to your body’s limits as you run.  It may be a good idea to invest in comfortable braces for additional support.

Any marathon form is discouraged during pregnancy, and especially during the first trimester.  Although it would be physically easiest to run a marathon during your first trimester, this is the time period when your baby’s organs are forming.  Dramatically increasing your body’s temperature over an extended period of time can be dangerous to your baby.  It’s best to avoid marathons all together.

Running Tips

Once you have the go ahead from your midwife or doctor, enjoy your running routine.  However, you should be a bit more mindful of your body while running.  Here are some good running tips:

  • Stay well hydrated; dehydration may cause the uterus to contract.
  • Choose surfaces that are very flat, such as a track.
  • Purchase shoes with excellent arch and ankle support.
  • Always run with a cell phone in case of injury or if contractions begin.
  • Know when you need to slow down to accommodate your body.

If you enjoyed running pre-pregnancy, then enjoy the next several months as a pregnant runner!  Just remember to listen to your body and take it easy.  As you approach the third trimester you may need to rethink running for your safety; indeed at this stage your pregnant running may resemble more of a quick, waddling walk!  The most important thing is to run safely.  Invest in quality shoes and sports bras.  Run on smooth surfaces to reduce the likelihood of a fall, and run with your phone in case something should happen.  Finally, remember to stay hydrated: drink water before, during, and after a run.

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