My experience of running with baby on board and beyond
by Kate Morgan, Run Buddy
The day I found out we were expecting our third little munchkin was the day after the 2019 Cardiff Half Marathon. I had had my suspicions for a couple of days (even furtively googling if energy gels were safe in pregnancy!). The following day, in the midst of nursing very heavy legs and thinking ‘ohhh I really should have done some cool down stretches whilst admiring that medal!’, my suspicions were delightfully confirmed.
In my previous two pregnancies I wasn’t running regularly at all so this was a brand new situation to find myself in and I really wanted to ensure it was safe to run. Everything I read, from NHS guidance to studies funded by Tommy’s the baby charity, stated that exercise is not dangerous for the baby. The guidance states that if you ran pre-pregnancy regularly, you can carry on for as long as you feel comfortable. Indeed, running has many benefits, including contributing towards a fit, healthy pregnancy, reducing the risk of pregnancy complications and helping towards reducing anxiety and stress in pregnancy. One of the best bits of advice I received in those early weeks was that pregnancy is not a time to aim for PBs, longest ever distances or to break fitness records. Hydration, stopping if any dizziness was experienced and avoiding overheating were also key messages. I also think there is, as always, a lot to be said for listening to your own body. There were evening runs I cut short or ran/walked when energy levels were low, even though I craved the headspace of a good run after a tough day at work.
Three weeks after the Cardiff Half I took part in the Yorkshire Marathon. In a funny way, being pregnant completely eliminated any pressures to achieve a certain pace or time and I enjoyed that more relaxed state of mind; although I must admit to not necessarily enjoying the heady combination of Lucozade, morning sickness and the whiff of manure from the fields around the stunning countryside of North Yorkshire!
As Autumn turned to winter and the nights drew in, fortunately we were still able to run as a She Runs: Cardiff group and without the support & encouragement of the wonderful members I suspect my enthusiasm for running would have waned a little with the temptation of the sofa and a boxset. The pregnancy was not without its complications in the third trimester, and compounded by the emergence of the pandemic, it wasn’t an easy time. But running, as it always does at any stressful or worrying time, provided much balance, an opportunity to pound out those anxieties and valuable thinking time.
As the bump got bigger, I’d often have a surprised look as I’d plod past. Often passersby would call out encouraging words, which meant an awful lot, especially as I think there is still that old fashioned school of thought that pregnancy is an illness and subject to a state of confinement!
I stopped running at 34 weeks pregnant; our little girl was delivered early a couple of weeks later. I genuinely loved running through pregnancy and look back with great fondness and fortune that I was able to keep it going until the final few weeks. After a few months off running to recover postpartum I’m back enjoying it as much as I always have done, except now I get to enjoy it with a little co-pilot in the running buggy!
Resources:NHS Exercise in Pregnancy: https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/keeping-well/exercise/
|Exercise in pregnancy – NHS The more active and fit you are during pregnancy, the easier it will be for you to adapt to your changing shape and weight gain. It will also help you to cope with labour and get back into shape after the birth.. Keep up your normal daily physical activity or exercise (sport, running, yoga, dancing, or even walking to the shops and back) for as long as you feel comfortable.www.nhs.uk|
Running habits in pregnancy study, Tommys Charity https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/blogs-and-stories/im-pregnant/pregnancy-news-and-blogs/largest-ever-study-running-habits-shows-running-pregnancy-safe
|Largest ever study of running habits shows that running in pregnancy is safe | Tommy’s Running during pregnancy did not affect the number of weeks babies were born, or the birthweight of the baby.; The results were shown in the largest ever study of running in pregnancy which has been published in BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine.; The international retrospective study looked at 1,293 women who take part in parkrun.www.tommys.org|