How To Run During Pregnancy
Staying active throughout your pregnancy is important to both you and your baby’s overall health.
Running when pregnant can be a great workout, but we believe many pregnant runners have this question, "Will Running Affect My Pregnancy?"
Recently, we learned that Karen Siah, a 33 year-old passionate personal trainer and fitness coach is working on her fitness to get back into the sports that she loves after having a baby in April 2019.
Besides being a coach, she is also a marathoner and Ironman triathlete.
She told us that during her pregnancy, she continues to run and train regularly.
So it's our privilege to ask this wonderful mother for some pregnant running tips and provide some information about what you might expect when you're running while pregnant.
RS: Why did you continue to run during your pregnancy?
Karen: My sport, triathlon, is something I love doing and have worked very hard to achieve a decent level of fitness. I knew that if I continued to exercise when I was pregnant, then my fitness will not drop too much, and after I deliver, getting back into the sport wouldn't be as difficult. Hence, I was motivated to keep going.
RS: As we know not many pregnant women run during pregnancy, how do you make sure your body condition is good to run?
Karen: Prior to getting pregnant, I had taken a course to become a certified pre and postnatal fitness trainer.
From there, I learned a lot about exercise during pregnancy. I also read a lot about it and made sure I took the precautionary steps. Basically, your lifestyle should not change too much when you're pregnant, as long as you do not have a complicated pregnancy.
Always ask your doctor before trying anything new. But if you have always been a runner, like I have been, you can continue to run, but keeping your heart rate monitored, and making sure you're well hydrated. If you're panting too much, it means you are not getting enough oxygen, and this means your baby isn't getting enough too.
So, you need to slow down and maintain a moderate heart rate. When my belly grew bigger, I wore a special waistband to support my belly and prevent it from bouncing, which can cause lower back pain.
RS: What have you learned about yourself and your body while running during pregnancy?
Karen: I learned so much from it that the body is strong and also change so much. Every trimester of my pregnancy, the body changes, and it's about adapting to these changes.
For example, there was a stage when I had to keep going, to the toilet, and it wasn't even when the belly was big. It was just that a lot of water as being discharged during the early stages.
So, I had to always empty my bladder before heading out. Sometimes, I still needed to make pit stops, so running in loops around my house was a good choice.
But, when you think you cannot handle it, your body will surprise you, and you will realise how strong you are.
RS: Nutrition is important during pregnancy. What types of foods do you take before and after your run?
Karen: Yes, it is very important. As your baby grows, you need to make sure you get enough calories in, and it isn't as simple as "eating for two".
You only need to eat an extra 200+ calories, and maybe around an extra 350 calories towards the end term.
For me, I made sure that the food I ate were whole, unprocessed foods that were fresh and rich in vitamins and minerals. I made sure that I got the right amount of fruits, vegetables and meat were all whole foods (nothing processed) and freshly cooked.
I had to make sure I always stayed hydrated with drinking lots of water, even though it made me go to the toilet a lot.
RS: If pregnant women want to run, what is the precaution they need to know before they start to run?
Karen: Before you start anything, it is very important that you check with your doctor first. Once the doctor says it's ok, then you can start slowly.
Like I mentioned earlier, monitoring your heart rate is important. Try not to go to zone 4 or 5, even if you do, don't stay there for too long, always stay hydrated.
RS: What other exercise is suitable for pregnant women?
Karen: Swimming makes a great anaerobic sport for pregnant women. It's low impact and you can just relax as well and make you feel better.
Dancing is also suitable if that is up your alley! But, I also highly recommend strength exercises, especially for the lower back and lower body. Work with a trainer if you are unsure of how to train.
RS: After giving birth, normally women would want to get back into shape after their confinement. What should they do?
Karen: I highly recommend waiting for a minimum of 6 weeks, (3 months if you did c section), before you begin any form of workout. Then you can start with postnatal yoga.
I went through a course of prenatal yoga and I learned so much about post delivery recovery. Your body went through so many changes when you are pregnant so you cannot expect to just dive right back into the sport again.
Your hips, and your core, are all weakened greatly, and even your joints like your knees and ankles will be wobbly.
RS: What advice would you give to all new mommies out there?
Karen: Take your time. Don't rush to get your pre pregnancy body back. 9 months up, 9 months down, that is the mantra.
Start slow, and be consistent at it. Don't give up. You'll feel like yourself again in due time, don't lose hope.
RS: What is the one thing we do not know about you?
Karen: I am a horrible singer, and now my baby has to suffer through off tune lullabies from his mummy!
Pregnancy had shown this new mommy how her body works and is capable of. New mommies, let's go for a class session with your baby shall we?
How can I run safely during pregnancy?
Here are some tips to make sure you stay safe when running during pregnancy:
1) Warm up and cool down properly.
2) Plan your route to avoid accidents
3) Hydrate yourself frequently before, during and after a run to prevent dehydration.
4) Invest in good and comfortable running shoes.
5) Consider buying a belly support band.
6) Buy a good sports bra.
7) Don’t exercise for more than an hour or push yourself too hard. You should be able to comfortably carry on a conversation.
How should I run adapt my running regime throughout my pregnancy?
Always listen to your body, stop if you are feeling uncomfortable or too tired. Here are some tips for each stage of your pregnancy:
First trimester: Remember to stay cool, avoid running in hot and humid weather.
Second trimester: Your bump is growing larger, changing your sense of balance. Run on flat surface to avoid slips and falls.
Third trimester: Running may be too uncomfortable or tiring at this stage. Try cycling on an indoor exercise bike or swimming instead.
Is running safe while pregnant?
If you're an experienced runner or has a high fitness level, running while pregnant is safe. If you are not a regular runner before pregnancy, it's advisable to try other exercise regimens like swimming, walking, or yoga.
Can running while pregnant hurt the baby?
If you are having multiples or there are complications in your pregnancy—running can be risky, otherwise experts say there’s no harm in maintaining your running routine.