Running While Pregnant: Myth vs. Fact


Photo Credit: Robert Eiserloch "She Turned Away"

Before giving birth to Miss Cupcake, I was an avid runner.  My OB/GYN assured me that it was completely safe and healthy to continue my routine.  However, I noticed that many people seem to be under the misguided impression that running while pregnant is a risky practice.  Despite the disapproving glances and questions, I continued to run until the beginning of my third trimester.  At that point, I discontinued running merely out of humiliation from the giggles that I received from the middle school students that hung out near my track.  In their defense, I can only imagine how ridiculous my waddling running must have appeared to them in my pleasantly plump state.

However, I believe that my exercise routine was extremely beneficial to me physically and emotionally during my pregnancy.  I highly recommend running to women who are seeking to stay fit and avoid excess weight gain.

The following recommendations are only applicable to healthy and reasonably fit pregnant women.  Obviously, it is vital to discuss your exercise routine with your doctor.  Every pregnancy is unique!

Myth vs Fact
Myth: Running while pregnant will deprive your baby of necessary nutrients.
Fact: Baby will ultimately take the necessary nutrients from your body.  As long as you are eating enough to cover your usual calorie needs plus 300 extra calories for baby you have nothing to worry about!

Myth: It is necessary to keep your heart rate under 140 beats per minute. 
Fact: While this was once the recommendation, it is quite outdated.  Doctors now recommend that pregnant women stop running when they reach the point that it would be difficult to carry on a conversation.  This varies from person to person and is a much more accurate measure of what is safe for your current fitness level.

Myth: Running is not safe in the third trimester.
Fact: As long as you are healthy and fit, it is perfectly safe and beneficial to run up to the day you deliver!

Myth: If you never ran before, it is unsafe to begin while pregnant. 
Fact: As long as you keep you exertion at a moderate level and eat properly, it is perfectly healthy to begin running while pregnant.

Precautions
A hormone called relaxin is produced in your body while pregnant.  Relaxin lubricates your joins and makes labor easier.  However, it also causes your joins to become more flexible.  You may feel that you can push yourself while stretching because it is less difficult than before.  This is a bad idea and can lead to injury.

Always listen to your body.  Pregnancy is no time to push your limits.  If you feel exhausted, lightheaded, or short of breath you should stop running immediately.

Stay hydrated!  Be sure to sip water periodically while running and rehydrate when you are complete.

May you have a healthy, happy pregnancy!