It used to be controversial for women to continue running while pregnant, but experts today say that women don’t actually have to give up running for nine months. In fact, studies show that regular physical activity benefit both mom and baby.
But training with a bun in the oven does require some special considerations, says Kristina Pinto, author of Fit & Healthy Pregnancy. Here are her top tips for moms-to-be on the run:
It’s important for every runner, but especially so for those who are drinking for two. Up your water intake, especially on days when you run. “Drinking too little water can put you in the danger zone if you’re working out, especially if your gym is sultry or you’re running outside in the warmer months,” says Pinto.
Run by Feel, Not Pace
Pregnancy is not the time to worry about mile splits, says Pinto, and it’s certainly not the time to push through the pain. “Stay attuned to how you feel, not what your watch says. If you listen to your body and pay attention to the cues it’s sending you, you’ll be aware when things aren’t quite right. This includes, nausea, racing heart, dizziness and excessive fatigue.”
“Change up your workout routine, so you aren’t doing just one form of exercise,” says Pinto. “This will help you avoid overuse injuries on specific muscle groups and joint regions.” Many pregnant athletes find value in balancing their high-impact running with low-impact workouts, like swimming or yoga.
Don’t Forget to Breathe
No, not the Lamaze kind (though you’re probably practicing that, too). “Now is a good time to start a mindfulness practice to help you handle the stress of being a new mom,” says Pinto. “You can practice a one-minute meditation to help you decompress anywhere, including while you exercise or sitting in your car in a parking lot. Breathe in for a count of 3, then exhale for a count of 5. Repeat 8 times.”
Recovery is Important
Easy runs will be your new fave during pregnancy, but if you’re feeling the need for speed, consider using interval training so that you can still get a vigorous workout that is safe. Pinto says that every 2-4 minutes of exertion (which she describes as “only being able to talk in single short sentences”) should be followed by a recovery interval of the same period to recover with an easy effort.
Keep Your Provider Informed
Don’t hide your workout routine from your doc or midwife. Keep them informed of your interests, plans, expectations and concerns, so that you feel comfortable checking in with your activity level throughout your pregnancy. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to a more old-school provider about your desire to keep working out, get a second (or third) opinion from another medical professional.