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Is running during pregnancy safe?

Pregnant ladies shouldn’t exercise because it could affect the baby’s health.

Is that a fallacy or just a cultural belief? So should pregnant women just restor lay down all day?!There’s been no evidence to say that women should stay still while carrying a child. Scientific progress has allowed us to better understand the human anatomy and in fact, there’s more evidence to show that remaining active is good for your health and your baby’s health as well.

Whether you are an athlete or not, it is fine to partake in sport while pregnant as long as you take some precautions. Your running distance will depend on your sports background.

First on the precautions list – before starting or keeping on exercising, it is highly recommended to checkwith your doctorbefore you proceed with any activities.

 

I’m pregnant…

A typical pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks. So a common practise is to divide it into three trimesters:

During the first trimester your body doesn’t considerably change. The weight you gain isn’t too high so you won’t experience backaches… yet. However, you may experience other symptoms that are part and parcel of the usual “pregnancy pack” such as extreme fatigue, nausea and vomiting, food cravings or aversions, mood swings, constipation, frequent urination, and other unpleasant side effects. These may affect your daily schedule.

When pregnant, your body may also suffer from a lack of vital nutrients. That is why many advocate additional prenatal vitamins to supplement your body’s needs.

What kind of vitamins?

Folic acid, also known as folate, is a B-type vitamin that helps from preventing neural tube defects.Neural tube defects are birth defects of the brain, spine, or spinal cord. They happen in the first month of pregnancy, often before a woman even knows that she is pregnant. That is why if you intend to be pregnant or if you are, make sure you have the daily right amount of acid folic.Youneed at least 400mcg/day before conceiving and600mcg/day during pregnancy according to USA standards.

Iron is important because it is a necessary component for the production of haemoglobin, which enables the transportation of oxygen in your body. But beyond this primary function, it is essential throughout the 9 months.

For you: During pregnancy, your body works more intensely and many organs (uterus and kidneys in particular) are working at full capacity. This increased activity requires more blood volume.

For your baby: Iron is essential not only to ensure proper development of the baby, but also for pregnancy-related organs such as the placenta or the umbilical cord. If iron stores are missing, you run the risk of giving birth to a premature or a low weightbaby.

Vitamin Ccombined with a daily intake of iron increase the absorption of the latter.

Fibre and fluids: During pregnancy, hormones cause a slowing of the digestive system. Fibre and liquids like water will lower the risks of constipation. Remember that being well hydrated is important for your health and your baby’s health. Dehydration can decrease the blood flow to the uterus, which may lead to premature contractions.

Vitamin D and Calcium: Your needs in Vitamin D and calcium will increase, as they are necessary to the development of the baby. Otherwise the baby might draw on your stores living you in short supply. A recent study has shown that vitamin D rate by the mom influences the baby’s strength later in life.

(Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24178796)

The first trimester is when the baby’s major organs are forming, and overheating’s a real issue. If a woman’s core temperature gets too high, it could cause problems with the baby. So during hot weather, better run early morning hours or in the evening when it is cooler.

(Source: http://www.runnersworld.com/fuel-school/healthy-running-during-your-first-trimester)

During the second trimester&third trimester,the recommendations for the first trimester remain to be followed. What you can add to your schedule is Kegel exercises. Certainly, pregnancy, childbirth, surgery, aging, being overweight and so on, can weaken your pelvic floor muscles, which support the uterus, bladder, small intestine and rectum.Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles to help you prevent or control urinary incontinence and other pelvic floor problems.

Indeed, the weight of the baby, or childbirth later on has probably weakened your pelvic floor muscles. That is why Kegels are not only important during pregnancy but throughout your life after having a baby.

 

How to do Kegel exercises

To get started:

  • Find the right muscles.To identify your pelvic floor muscles, stop urination in midstream. If you succeed, you’ve got the right muscles. Once you’ve identified your pelvic floor muscles you can do the exercises in any position, although you might find it easiest to do them lying down at first.
  • Perfect your technique.Tighten your pelvic floor muscles, hold the contraction for five seconds, and then relax for five seconds. Try it four or five times in a row. Work up to keeping the muscles contracted for 10 seconds at a time, relaxing for 10 seconds between contractions.
  • Maintain your focus.For best results, focus on tightening only your pelvic floor muscles. Be careful not to flex the muscles in your abdomen, thighs or buttocks. Avoid holding your breath. Instead, breathe freely during the exercises.
  • Repeat three times a day.Aim for at least three sets of 10 repetitions a day.

Don’t make a habit of using Kegel exercises to start and stop your urine stream. Doing Kegel exercises while emptying your bladder can actually lead to incomplete emptying of the bladder — which increases the risk of a urinary tract infection.

(Source: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/womens-health/in-depth/kegel-exercises/art-20045283)

During the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, you can carry on running. However, consider running shorterdistancesand decrease in the duration and intensity as your due date approaches. You can slow down your running for lower impact activities like swimming and walking.

 

Postural changes – Muscles imbalances

Your body will experience many changes while pregnant. Indeed, your hips have probably tilted forward (Lower CrossedSyndrome – LCS, also know as distal or pelvic crossed syndrome) and your shoulders are probably rounded (Upper Crossed Syndrome – UCS, also known as proximal or shoulder girdle crossed syndrome).

Graphic Source: http://www.chrcentre.com.au/blog/blog/upper-crossed-lower-crossed-syndrome/)

 

This misalignment is the source of pain you might be suffering. Indeed, certain muscles becoming tightened, while other muscles become lengthened and inhibited in order to stabilize the body, and to adaptto the growing foetus and uterus.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/postural-changes-pregnancy-beyond-teresa-chartrand and http://www.active.com/fitness/articles/why-your-workout-should-change-with-pregnancy

After birth

Returning to sport after giving birth takes time and it’s always a good idea to see your good doctor before engaging in any form of sport.

After childbirth, like any major operation or hospitalisation, it’s advisable to rest, get plenty of sleep and simply recuperate. This includes NO heavy lifting nor intensive movement of the body especially in first three to six weeks. You can, however, work on your pelvic-floor exercises and walk. Take it easy; and allow your body the chance to recover.

Once past the 6-week postnatal check-up, you can then consider starting with low impact exercises.

By the 16th week, most women have been able to resume their previous sport activities. Listen to your body as you might feel tired due to the lack of sleep, breastfeeding.

(Source: http://www.pelvicfloorfirst.org.au/pages/returning-to-sport-or-exercise-after-the-birth.html)

Some tips

Some tips when running:

  • Keep well hydrated
  • Run during the coolest hours of the daylight, early mornings or in the evening, as your body temperature gets higher while pregnant.
  • Don’t run a marathon while pregnant. You could put your health and the baby’s health in danger.
  • Never run to the point of exhaustion or breathlessness. If you feel tired, don’t push yourself, and just take a break.
  • Wear a heart rate monitor to help limit excessive speed and effort.
  • As your due date approaches, slow down your running for lower impact activities like swimming and walking.

Conclusion

As a conclusion, while you can still run when pregnant, take some precautions and listen to your body. If you are not sure, discuss it with your doctor.

Running while pregnant is good; it improves your sleep quality, prevents you from gaining excessive weight, lessens back pains, and reduces delivery complications and time spent in labour. However, don’t exceed your capacity and don’t raise the bar too high.

Enjoyyour run, your pregnancy and stay safe!