Two For The Road

Running sensibly while you're pregnant can be easier and more beneficial than you think

by Kate Szumanski


“It was a beautiful winter day – snowy but sunny – and I felt great running on snow-packed roads. I was as pregnant as possible – for that evening, I gave birth. I had gone out for a five-miler, but I felt I could have run forever. No matter how much time passes, I can still mentally put myself on that road. A perfect run on a perfect day.” (From Joan Samuelson’s Running for Women.)

Okay, so you’re not an Olympic champion like Joan Benoit Samuelson – fair enough. But if you’re a pregnant runner who wants to maintain her fitness, then your running needn’t suffer. While adhering to certain fundamental principles to ensure your health and that of your baby, as an expectant mum you can enjoy the pleasures of running much the same as in your non- expectant condition. And who knows, maybe you too will reach Samuelson’s state of bliss even before your baby’s born.

First and foremost, it’s crucial to listen to your doctor’s advice. Complications during pregnancy are rare, but if they do arise they may prevent you from carrying on with your training, no matter how committed and motivated you are to running. A frank and open discussion with your obstetrician – particularly about your exercise programme – is essential to guarantee a healthy pregnancy. A supportive doctor who recognises the benefits of an exercise programme will not only listen to your concerns, but should also address your individual needs, although you should never hesitate to seek a second opinion if you’re uncomfortable with your doctor’s diagnosis. Your well-being and peace of mind, as well as the livelihood of your baby, are at stake, so don’t be afraid to speak up.

If you’ve been given the green light to run, then proceed with cautious enthusiasm, says Dr Rod Jaques, medical advisor to the British Triathlon Team at the British Olympic Medical Centre. The health benefits to women who exercise while pregnant have been well documented. They include: less lower-back pain; reduced amounts of analgesic at delivery; fewer instances of operative deliveries; and fewer cases of post-natal depression. What’s more, women who exercise during pregnancy gain less weight, have improved mood and sleep patterns and lose weight more rapidly after giving birth. Although now is not the time to begin a running programme, if you’re already an experienced runner then there’s no reason to stop – just modify.

How intense is too intense?
Dr Jaques notes that concrete answers to the questions of “how much and at what intensity?” will never be found on the research block, since scientists will be hard-pressed to find a woman willing to subject her pregnancy to such experiments.

The best evidence doctors can come up with is based on animal testing. “Although we can’t make that leap into the human world based on the animal experiments, we can try to extrapolate the effects of high-intensity exercise during pregnancy, interpret the data and apply the results to human beings,” he says.

Dr Jaques advises women to keep their heart rate at or below 140 beats per minute (bpm) while exercising. Experiments on pregnant dogs suggest that running at an intensity greater than 70 per cent VO2max (the point of maximum oxygen capacity) for two hours or more is potentially damaging to a litter of puppies: dogs forced to run at such an intensity and duration gave birth to a high proportion of runts and with a greater number of abnormalities in the litter. “Big babies do better, smaller babies do worse,” notes Dr Jaques. “If the dog studies are anything to go on, then high-intensity exercise must be avoided to ensure the health of the baby. Use 140 bpm as a ceiling.”

Furthermore, recent studies conducted on sheep – in which they were made to exercise at 70 per cent of their VO2max – revealed that the animals experienced a significant rise in their intrauterine temperature (the temperature within the womb).

Although the human implications are admittedly frightening, the doctor additionally noted that both the sheep and their offspring were perfectly fine at delivery. “Researchers have determined that a rise in intrauterine temperature would have to be fairly prolonged to produce damage,” Dr Jaques explains.

Chill out and relax
Some research shows that an internal body temperature above 101°F may cause birth defects in the developing foetus; yet other studies fail to confirm these findings. Given such conflicting reports, however, most experts agree that a pregnant woman must keep her core body temperature at a recognised safe level (below 101°F) to protect her unborn baby from potential birth defects, particularly to the foetus’s central nervous system.

What can an expectant mother do to stay cool? In addition to keeping your heart rate at or below 140 bpm, experts advise you to train outdoors, rather than indoors on a treadmill where the wind’s cooling effect is eliminated. If you are inside, be sure the area is well ventilated; keep the windows open and consider investing in a fan or two. Avoid running in very warm and hot conditions. Pregnant women should never run to the point of breathlessness or exhaustion – it’s important to work to a comfortable level and not overdo it. You should additionally ensure that you remain very well hydrated before, during and after a run. Dr Jaques advises pregnant athletes to drink 100ml of water every 15 minutes during a run, and to keep pumping the fluids afterwards.

During pregnancy, a woman’s body produces the hormone relaxin, which relaxes joints and ligaments. Loose joints and ligaments can make you more susceptible to injury, and the gradual widening of your hips will change your biomechanics and make your feet more likely to overpronate (roll excessively inwards). Easing gently into a run and stretching properly afterwards will help to prevent injuries, as will choosing shoes with increased stability and cushioning.

According to the National Childbirth Trust, during the first trimester of pregnancy you may experience increased tiredness, nausea, breast tenderness, pressure on your bladder and constipation. Many of the side effects of pregnancy are due to the sudden rush of hormones in your body. Yet many women surveyed by Dr Jaques report having ‘a wonderful time’ when running through- out their first trimester. Be sure to map out toilet stops along your route, wear a supportive bra and stop running if you feel too tired at this stage. Weeks 0-14 are crucial as far as your baby’s development goes. At week five the foundations of the brain and the spinal cord are growing, and at week six the head begins to form, followed by the chest and the abdomen. By the 10th week the heart will be pumping blood to all parts of the body and the internal organs will be functioning. Your ‘little runner’ is now completely formed, and just needs to grow.

From weeks 14-28 your pregnancy begins to show, and your breasts grow as milk-producing cells develop. Your pregnancy is now fully established and your baby is well formed; you should be feeling more energetic, and any naturally occurring sickness will lessen. Many women experience lower-back pain at this time due to the increased pressure on their pelvis; this may contribute to other unexpected pain such as knee strain. With the added weight your running gait may change, so be alert to terrain and traffic while running.

Properly formed, your baby now looks like a real human being – and behaves like one: moving limbs in response to stimulation from the brain and exercising his or her muscles. At any time between 18 and 22 weeks you may feel the baby moving.

During the last lap of pregnancy your weight-gain – finally – will begin to slow down. You may feel the need to use the loo more often as your uterus presses down on your bladder. You may also experience a shortness of breath and your feet may swell, making running quite taxing. Dr Jaques notes, “It would take a heroic woman who would consider running during this stage of pregnancy. Physically, it’s extremely challenging.” Concentrated weight gain at the bottom of the sternum and pubic bone makes it difficult biomechanically to run. Add to that the increased back pain, and running begins to seem a rather uncomfortable and painful – thgouhg not impossible – proposition. At this point it may be time to consider alternatives to running, such as swimming, cycling, low-impact aerobics or walking. At 28 weeks your baby will be about 14 inches long and will weigh about two pounds; he or she will be gaining weight rapidly, and from week 36 will put on around an ounce a day.

Getting back to your old routine
Returning to your pre-pregnancy running form largely depends upon two things: the type of birth you experience and your fitness level. In a normal vaginal birth – if too much blood wasn’t lost at delivery – a woman can most likely begin exercising again when she feels no pain. It’s advised to wait at least two days before beginning any aerobic exercise. According to Joan Samuelson’s Running for Women, exercise begun any sooner may increase bleeding and delay a full recovery.

If the birth was a Caesarean section, consult your obstetrician. Doctors say you should give yourself at least a week before any light exercise, and at least three weeks for intense exercise. Residual scarring and bleeding may interfere with your ability to return to proper form as soon as you may like. Remember to take it nice and slow. Low-impact exercises, such as walking and swimming, are good choices to ease you back into shape.

Dr Jaques explains that a woman may begin vigorous training from six weeks to three months following delivery – three months is more likely if there were any complications, but since everyone is different it’s important to listen to your own body and not to push it if you aren’t fully healed.

After pregnancy, the increased plasma volume in your bloodstream may spur on recovery. After being mentally starved of running, you may have an increased appetite for it. With less time on your hands now that your little one has arrived, concentrate on quality sessions, which lead to an improved running performance.

Milking The System

If you’ve decided to breastfeed your baby, then here’s some good news: it seems exercise does not affect the quality or quantity of a mother’s milk. That’s according to Fitness Matters, an informative, award-winning website dedicated in part to expectant athletes.

It’s been widely reported that breastfed babies are less likely to suffer from gastrointestinal problems, diarrhoea, respiratory problems, ear infections, pneumonia and food allergies, than formula-fed babies.

Although an American study reported that many babies refuse post-exercise milk because of high levels of lactic acid, experts at Fitness Matters contend that the study may be flawed, since the milk samples were given by bottle, and many breastfed babies simply won’t take a bottle if they’re not used to it.

Fitness Matters offers the following tips for women who run and choose to breastfeed their babies:

  • Breastfeed your baby before running;
  • Keep note of your weight loss. If you’re losing more than one pound a week then add nutritious snacks to your diet in between meals;
  • Eat healthy, well-balanced meals and stay properly hydrated.
  • For more information on breastfeeding, contact the La Leche League, an international support group for mothers who breastfeed their infants.

Eight Golden Rules

Here are the golden rules for any expectant runner:

Talk to your doctor or midwife
Find out their attitude towards combining exercise with pregnancy.

Train, don’t strain
Forget about speedwork and long endurance runs. Pay attention to your level of exertion, and mind your heart rate and temperature.

Don’t overheat
Run in the most temperate part of the day. Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after a run, even if you have to visit the loo more.

Know when to say when
Stop running if you begin cramping, gasping for air or feel dizzy. If you experience pain or bleeding or your water breaks, get medical attention immediately.

Consider your options
If running is becoming uncomfortable, try walking or swimming – an activity that doesn’t introduce new stress to your body.

Dress for success
Wear appropriate clothing to avoid overheating. Don’t wear tight-fitting clothes.

Eat well
Be sure you’re getting enough iron, calcium, folic acid and other essential nutrients.

Go easy
Running to the point of exhaustion doesn’t do you or your baby any good.

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Discuss this article

Help - I'm just about to start running again after having a baby. I am still breast feeding any thoughts or information on the effects it might have. Also what about still softened ligaments! I'm terrified of injury. I'd be glad to hear about other new mums experiences.
Posted: 02/08/2002 at 09:42

Hey Lou,

there might be some useful bits in this running and pregnancy article, or if you've put in your subscriber number, this neat real-life account

hope it's going well

Posted: 02/08/2002 at 11:09

What a marvellous section - worth subscribing for that alone, although I am even less likely to have another baby than to run another marathon...

The main problems of running while breast-feeding are the predictable ones about needing extra support and being prepared for the possibility that when you get hot and sweaty your breasts will behave like the modified sweat glands they are and make extra foremilk, which may lead to leakage. Harmless as long as you don't get embarrassed about it!

Anecdotally, some women have reported that their babies don't like the taste of their post-exercise breast milk.

Your ligaments should be fine now. They get back to normal within days of giving birth, and breastfeeding doesn't delay the process.

Happy running - and enjoy those wonderful small-baby days. They're soon in their teens and telling you they didn't ask to be born.

Cheesr, V-rap.
Posted: 02/08/2002 at 17:05

Apparently the body still produces relaxin for 6 months after the birth which means the official advice is not to run or do high impact activities until then but I reckon if you listen to your body then all should be fine.

I've never had any problems with feeding and running. If you run hard then the lactic acid is reported to get into the milk and upset your baby a bit but I wasn't running hard enough to have that effect and now she doesn't feed as frequently so it's not a problem.

I tried running again 5 weeks after the birth and it was really grim. In fact, it wasn't until my wee one was sleeping through the night at 6 months that I could really face running again regularly as I was just too damned tired before that - I only went out when she had been screaming all day with colic and I needed to de-stress more than I needed to sleep which was very rare - most times sleep won over every time .

It's taken a long while to feel like I was running again rather than shuffling along - I've only just started doing the odd 5km and 10km and she is now 9 months old. I've found having a Baby Jogger running buggy a great help as it makes it easier to get a run in during the day if I need to.

I think everyone is different in getting back to running after babies. I know you see people like Sonia O'Sullivan running internationally like ridiculously soon after giving birth but that is just not normal. There's a runner I know who has run for Britain who has found it a real struggle to get back running again after and is still tired and knackered and just not up to racing and training and all that. Her baby is now 6 or so months.

Sorry for the long post - I think I rambled a bit.

Good luck with the running - how old is your baby now?
Posted: 02/08/2002 at 22:40

Ooops, sorry. Have just read the article which Sean Fishpool suggested reading and it seems that it's now considered okay to start vigorous training "from six weeks to three months following delivery" Eeeeek!

I felt like I'd never be able to run ever again six weeks afterwards. Still, I sent off my marathon entry form the other day so I obviously don't feel that way any more.

Good luck and happy running,

Posted: 02/08/2002 at 23:13

I found it very difficult after having a baby - that was mainly due to lack of sleep however (and still is 7 years later!!).
Sorry about that - good luck and I hope you get running again soon!
Posted: 03/08/2002 at 13:28

thanks for all of those. My baby is now 4.5 months old. I've been walking for nearly an hour a day since about a week after the birth. I've just started back in the gym and have attempted a couple of 10 minute runs which have been ok. I've also been doing a postnatel excersise class run by a midwife whose advice was to wait until my baby was at least 20 weeks old before doing any high impact stuff as the ligaments are aparently still softened. It seems everybody has a different view on when you are ok to start running again. The breast feeding counceller said you shouldn't run whilst breast feeding because again the natural support which is usually there dissapears whilst you are producing milk.
So you can see my dilema, no decent medical studies on any of this. I guess I'll take it really easy and see what happens.
Luckily I got a little angel who sleeps right through the night, so tiredness isn't too much of a problem.

Posted: 04/08/2002 at 09:39

Did you run a lot before the whole pregnancy and birth shenanigans?

Lucky you on having a wee one who sleeps so well. My dear hubby was training for London and Caitlin was still waking 2 or 3 times a night right up until a few weeks before. He always went in to get her out of her cot and then brought her to me to feed and then he took her back to her cot again so I bearly had to surface out of sleep.

I don't know how he did it. He was often getting up at 6am and doing 7 or so miles and then going out for another 7 or so miles in the evening. He was hoping to run a qualifying time for the Commonwealth Games but then he got injured with 3 weeks to go and is only just getting over the injury now. Poor sod.

Posted: 04/08/2002 at 20:05

I did run quite a lot before the whole pregnancy lark - but have an ongoing IT band problem hence my phobia of injury.
Am off to a session for beginners at the running club tonight so we'll see what happens
Posted: 05/08/2002 at 11:10

Hope you have a good session tonight, Louise.

That 20-week figure has a very plucked-from-the-air feel about it (and you can't have relaxin postnatally because it's only produced by the corpus luteum, whose breakdown plays a part in the onset of labour - although relaxin almost certainly isn't the only ligament-softening hormone in pregnancy) but midwives are often very protective (and rightly so) of "their" new mums' need for lots of rest. The whole pregnancy and birh shebang, followed by having to dance attendance day and night on a baby and soothe the jealous anxieties of partners and older children, is completely exhausting.

Still, NOT exercising postnatally causes much more long-term damage than getting back in the swing at the earliest opportunity.

Cheers, V-rap.

Posted: 05/08/2002 at 11:40

Three weeks after the birth of my second (and last), I started a 3 times a week gym regime which included some treadmill running, cycling and rowing as well as lots of weights. Did a post-natal class once a week too. By the time I went back to work when she was 16 weeks old I was in good shape and fit. In fact, I came second in a fitness assessment 'competition' at work when she was 5 months old.

I wasn't even a runner at that stage. My first marathon was when she was 20 months and she thought the medal was 'chocolate gold' and tried to feed it to me. Aah.

Moral of the story? Horses for courses. Listen to your body but I agree not exercising is more dangerous than starting back as soon as you're ready. Also, you'll bring your child up with an exercising parent as a role model, so no future couch potato.
Posted: 05/08/2002 at 12:35

I also started running again when my wee one was six weeks old and initially I felt better than I had sometimes pre-baby! Then I started taking my running a bit more seriously, did a good few 10k's, although I have to admit it was hard work as I breast fed and still do at bedtime. My daughter is now 14 motnhs old and I am in training for the Great North run. I would recommend taking it slowly to begin with as obviusly your body has gone through a lot of changes but it is worthwhile in the end - most other mothers I meet don't know where I get the energy from to go out and run - but if they did it they would feel an awful lot better. I think it is important as well to listen yo your body I was bad for going out when I was really tired and felt worse afterwards. My only problem now is thinking I might have to slow down again if I have another one.
Posted: 06/08/2002 at 08:27

Karen, how did you find fitting in the training for your first marathon? The wee one will be 19 months by the time London comes round - it will be my third marathon and I'm not sure what sort of time to aim for in terms of how much running I'll be able to fit in. Last marathon, I was running 4 or 5 times a week and did 3 hours 58 - this time I'd like to aim for 3 hours 45. I guess I'll just have to go on how it feels at the time. What do you do about childcare whilst you're running? I don't think Caitlin will last over an hour in her running buggy.
Posted: 06/08/2002 at 10:56

Its like a convention of super mums!

I'm not in the same league as you lot as I didn't start running till after I had my second kid. I think she was about 4-5 months old when I first went out. I just did it to try and get back in shape. I was still breastfeeding at the time. Hadn't run before this but didn't have any horrible things happen to me because of it!
I work 3 days a week and manage to fit in two sneeky trips to the treadmill at the gym on the way to pick them up and then try to get out on a weekend for a longer run. I have been a bit slack recently but did realy well last week.
I think running has been absolutely fantastic at getting me back into shape after having my kids quite close together. And I realy enjoy it, which I spose all you Super mums already do! Now I do it because I like having the time to myself to think and its something I do thats just for me.
Posted: 06/08/2002 at 15:41

I found it took a long time to enjoy running again. When I very first started running, I was already pretty fit and so it was never really difficult. Just after Caitlin was born, it was like starting from scratch - I had to stop and walk after 10 minutes. It took weeks to get so that I could run 4 miles without stopping to walk.
The only thing that kept me going was remembering what it used to be like when running felt good and easy and I could run without thinking about it.

Running has changed for me post baby too in that I appreciate just being able to run in a way I never did before I'd experienced the relative incapacity of being hugely pregnant. Plus as you say it's time to think and something just for me which post baby is soooo precious.
Posted: 06/08/2002 at 21:17

I think its totaly brilliant that you have done loads of marathons and are going to do the London marathon next year. I'd love to do the London marathon. But I have only done one half marathon (Leeds this year) to date. I am supposed to be doing the robin hood half marathon in September. My other half has done the London marathon the last two years, it was him who convinced me to give running a go in the first place. Apart from feeling a little bit daunted that I am not realy capable of doing it it is a worry thinking about sacrificing the time to do the long runs at weekend when you want to be with the kids. Fitting it all in is a realy hard sometimes.
Posted: 07/08/2002 at 09:58

Running muppet,
You mentioned baby joggers. I have been considering these, what are your thoughts on them?
So far as I can see, there is only one type of running buggy, and these are made by baby jogger, and are £299. Is this right, and if so, are they worth it?
Posted: 07/08/2002 at 10:19

RW did a test on them years back - I think the results are archived somewhere on this site. Baby Jogger came out as the best to run with I seem to remember.

Mine is by Baby Jogger (they're distributed by Little Green Earthlets in this country - are originally from America and adjusted to British Safety Standards). They do a Zipper which a few people in my running club have which is smaller (more manoeverable around shops and easier to fit in your car boot) and 'only' £199. These don't have a lifetime warranty on the frame which the standard Baby Jogger II does but seem to be just as good to run with - better with the 16' wheels as opposed to the 12'. I got the standard BJII one mainly because I preferred the option in terms of seat colours (sad I know) and liked the idea of a lifetime warranty - also it has a longer wheelbase which means there is less weight over the front wheel which makes it a bit lighter to turn.

I find it great because I couldn't afford a regular gym membership with a creche and with my hubby wanting to run too, sometimes it's the only way to fit a run in. I do prefer to run without it because as I said before it's nice to have time by myself. I know people who run with their partners and take turns in pushing and do 2 hour runs with theirs! I've only run up to 6 miles with mine. One couple bring their daughter out on our Thursday night session and she sleeps whilst they run. Theirs is a different one which can attach to their bikes too as they do lots of cycling as well.

I've seen quite a few at races too - I'm thinking of doing the Cabbage Patch 10 with mine as hubby wants to run too.

I got a smaller normal buggy too for using round the shops and things but I find I use the Baby Jogger all the time because it's so nice to walk with - rolls really easily and I can walk properly with big strides and also it's easy to push with one hand although it is a tad tricky to manoevre in small spaces.
We do lots of walks over the Downs and use it in preference to our back carrier most of the time although you have to lift it over stiles. We've also taken it up a small mountain in Ireland but with the big rocks, in retrospect, a back carrier would have been easier.

I think it's the best value for money thing we bought. It also has the advantage of making Caitlin known everywhere I go as the baby with the posh buggy.
Posted: 07/08/2002 at 11:37

I think it's fantastic you've done so much already. Fitting it all in is really hard and even more so if you work full or part-time too. For a very few people running is their life and life gets fitted in around running - for the rest of us, life comes first and running fits around that - it's supposed to make life more enjoyable and there's no point sacrificing really important things like time with your kids when you can run marathons in a few years time instead.
Posted: 07/08/2002 at 11:51

Having well-trained children is part of the solution. I used to go out running in the evening after they'd gone to bed, so their father couldn't moan too much about excess childcare requirements. I found that I really enjoyed my runs as a time for myself and my thoughts. These days it's rather easier as I live on my own and the children live with their father! He has actually started doing some running and takes the children out early evening, sometimes their on their bikes and sometimes they run too (daughter more likely to run than son - trainee couch potato). I have done a run/bike session with them including a picnic which totalled ~12 miles and they were fine. They are aged 12 & 9 (this Sunday coming). My daughter did her first Race for Life 5k aged 5, and at the great age of 8 this year our pb was 34 minutes.

They know all about races and supporting and I've now added in the 'club vest spotting' element for extra interest. They are old enough for me to say 'stay there' until I finish the race (although the longest I've tried this for so far is 7k)!
Posted: 07/08/2002 at 12:22

Hi everyone, I had to give up running when I was pregnant but started running again in the evnings when he was 8 weeks old. I need to run to keep my sanity after spending the day with the baby and my three year old. No matter how tired I feel when I go out, I always feel better when I get back. This is despite the broken nights sleep and the fact that I am a zombie for half the morning. I don't usually run until around 8 or 9pm when at least one child is asleep (my husband can't cope with two at once) but I spend all day looking forwards to time on my own to get some fresh air and watch the sunset.

I also have a Zipper baby jogger and would recommend them - they are not cheap but are very light and you can stear with one hand even with a three year old sitting in it. I haven't had a chance to use it for running yet and I have to say I prefer to go out on my own. They are however really for exercise, whether walking or running, and are useless for carrying shopping, if it rains etc.
Posted: 07/08/2002 at 15:04

Hi Sarah,
It is hard when you are at home all the time with the kids. I am very lucky that I work 3 days a week so kind of try to get the best I can from all worlds. On the days I am on my own all day I am very pleased to see their dad come home! My girls are 3 (and three quaters as she says!) and 2 and it is getting easier all the time (the kids that is not the running!!). I reckon when the youngest is 3 it'll just get easier. I don't realy mean "easier" but different. They ask me and their dad if we are going running when ever they see us within a yard of a trainer. They even set off together leg it up and down the stairs, arrive in the kitchen in mock breathlessness say theyve been for a run and demand drinks. Its very funny. I seem to of digressed a bit now! Can't even remember what I was trying to say!
Posted: 07/08/2002 at 15:42

I have had 2 children, one is 2 years old, the other is 7 weeks and have been pretty appalled at the lack of encouragement that medical/midwifery staff give to prospective/new mothers. I can see from your letters that everybody has a different set of guidelines. I have decided to stop full time work while my children are very small and have just signed up to a year long training course given by the Guild of Post Natal Exercise Teachers. I hope to teach exercise classes to postnatal women once I qualify. I would love to get hold of some references for good articles. I hope that the course goes beyond the usual 'wait 6 weeks' fairly glib advice, but I would love to be armed with some sound medical reports on running pre & post pregnancy so that I can put a case for it. I (and you)know how much better you feel for being fit - I think it's about time the health service started looking at exercise more positively and really selling it to people BEFORE they get too unfit to enjoy life.

Gosh - don't I sound militant - must be the hormones.
Posted: 07/12/2002 at 15:25

I am curious because I am nine weeks pregnant and two weeks ago my doctor advised me to stop running during my pregnancy. Then I got my copy of RW and read the article on pregnancy. To be honest I am a little baffled. Can anyone tell me where would you get matnernity running gear from. How do we know it is actually safe for the baby.

Would love to hear your points of view.
Posted: 04/07/2003 at 17:25

Hey listen Breda, I'm no expert but in the GP v Emma Litterick stakes, I know who's advice I'd be taking!

You ought to go back to your doctor and ask him why you've been advised to stop running. Or ask another Doctor.

Posted: 04/07/2003 at 18:20

Good luck by the way

Posted: 04/07/2003 at 18:21

Do you use a HRM, Breda? If so, aim to keep your heart rate under 150bpm and you're unlikely to run into too many problems. Pregnancy changes your exercise tolerance, so you may find you're barely doing more than brisk walking at that level. Racing is unlikely to be a realistic proposition.

Ordinary running gear is accommodating enough for a small-to-middling bump, and by the time your bump is big you may be too uncomfortable even to run for the bus.

There are a couple of well-documented instances of elite athletes running until well into pregnancy (Ingrid Kristianson, Liz McColgan, our own Monique), but not everyone can. The first three months of pregnancy can be so exhausting that the very idea of running would make you laugh if only you had the energy and could open your mouth without heaving.

I think Emma Litterick's "listen to your body" advice is as good as it gets, and I hope she listens when her body tells her it's time to STOP running.
Posted: 04/07/2003 at 18:32

Seriously though, its a pretty bloody irresponsible piece of writing.

Bolis down to "Never mind what experts say, I'm a runner and I know best"
Posted: 04/07/2003 at 18:33

Isn't that what a lot of the stuff on these Forums says too, Chimp? And many runners will identify with her having encountered a health professional who was perhaps a bit trigger-happy in advising that all running must cease forthwith.
Posted: 04/07/2003 at 18:38

Whoa V-rap!

Surely the point here is, her GP has advised her not to run. Now you dont know the reasons for that any more than I do.

We just can't simply assume that her doctor is anti-running or covering his/her back.

You may well be right but I feel Breda ought to be going back to her own GP for clarification. If she feels her Doctor is being over-cautious, see another doctor.

But for pete's sake, dont go against your GP's advice on the strength of a magazine article!
Posted: 04/07/2003 at 19:12

Hmmm...dinosaur quickly looks up chapter on "genuine medical contra-indications to running in the first trimester of pregnancy". Bleeding...severe vomiting...anaemia...pain that is more than mild discomfort...wot, is that it? I think even Emma Litterick's body wouldn't be telling her to run if she was experiencing any of these.

More to the point, I'm not sure I can face nine months of "me and my pregnancy" in RW. We've already lived through it all with that girl from the opposition who seemed to be pregnant for about 18 months.

But I agree - if in doubt, Breda should certainly...Breda! Sorry! That ill-mannered overgrown monkey shouldn't be trying to talk about you over your head. If you're confused, ask your doctor if there's any specific reason why YOU, in particular, shouldn't be running while pregnant (don't accept vague stuff about "bad for your joints" or even "bad for the baby") and if you don't feel you're getting your questions answered, have a chat with your midwife. Midwives are the experts in normal pregnancy.
Posted: 04/07/2003 at 21:44

Hello I think you need to make sure you don't have a real medical reason for not running get the doctor to explain, mine was a bit reluctant, but I think a lot of the time it is to cover themselves but also how can anyone know how their body will react in pregnancy?
I did get a telling off from one midwife because according to her my running meant the baby would be tiny 6 lb or less as I was using all the nutrition for him, that was nonsense as he was 3 weeks late and 8lb15oz, she did apologise.
However the running I did was during my second pregnancy so there weren't the usual first time mother doubts about being able to carry a baby at all.
Look on the web for info the American medical profession have more studies available, sorry don't have links. Could try the Melpomene (spelling?) institute.
Posted: 05/07/2003 at 01:34

V-rap is quite correct Breda.

Soz for talking over you.
Posted: 05/07/2003 at 08:36

One final point on Emma Litterick's article. She doesnt actually say her midwife told her NOT to run does she? So either her midwife told her she was OK to run in which case the whole article is pretty disingenuous or her midwife told her not to run in which case she's a bloody fool.

And what is wrong with a midwife carrying out a lengthy and thorough check before deciding in any event? Did Emma really think she'd take one look at her Sauconys and say "yeah, of course you can run"
Posted: 05/07/2003 at 08:47

I do think I or any other woman is quite capable of listening to her body, I naturally slowed and naturally cut distance back, it just happened.
One word of advice- gate vaulting is impossible after 5 months, believe me.
Posted: 05/07/2003 at 22:19

Monique, so glad to hear you say it all happens naturally as reading all the articles and even speaking to the "experts" left me feeling confused. I asked my doctor if it was safe to continue as I was doing but her answer was given without even asking me what I am doing!!! My midwife said don't start anything new but continue with what you already do. That is contradicted by seeing that I should worry about my heart rate and distance as I am still doing speed work and training for The Great North Run. I am now 16 wks. After I get over the initial crampy feeling which I think is caused more by my bladder than anything, I feel as good as I always have done. I am just off for a 10 miler now.

Tell me, am I mad !!!!!!!

PS I am not really Brian the name is CINT
Posted: 06/07/2003 at 14:30

For a minute "Brian" I thought you'd had one of those new womb ops.
No you are not mad, I had a hairy time at Wilmslow half when my HRM went haywire but figured it was from cross-readings. It became uncomfortable to wear after bump got bigger so stopped bothering and just ran how I felt. My stride also shortened considerably as I couldn't see my feet- another way of naturally slowing you down perhaps?
Posted: 06/07/2003 at 22:55

I haven't actually put my heart rate monitor on since I've been pregnant. Sundays 10 was great and as you've said it all seems to happen naturally as I seemed to slow considerably on the steeper hills. I have decided my last speed session will be this coming Friday and I won't bother with hill reps any more but I would still like to continue running for an hour or three at least 4 times a week (up to 15 miles on a Sunday).

I haven't time to read all the back messages so I will be rude and ask Monique, are you still pregnant or do you have your bundle?

By the way, Brian is the Chair of our club and I am logged on under him for dealing with race entries and didn't bother to change it!

Posted: 08/07/2003 at 09:09

My bundle is now nearly 5 years old and due to start full time schol in September- time passes very quickly.
Posted: 09/07/2003 at 13:28

The latest I have heard is that I shouldn't do more than 4 - 6 miles at a time as my blood supply will be going to my legs instead of the baby. Any thoughts?

How long did you continue running then, Monique? This is the first baby I have wanted to continue running with. My other babies are 17, 15 and 3 and yes it does pass quickly.
Posted: 10/07/2003 at 08:46

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