Pregnancy is, without a doubt, a joyous occasion for expectant parent/parents. It is also, however, a time of great planning, shouldering responsibility, and most importantly, taking care of the health of the would-be mother and the unborn child. To achieve this, most obstetricians worth their salt would recommend a healthy diet and exercise regimen. When it comes to exercising during pregnancy, yoga and walking are physical activities recommended by health care professionals the most as they tend to be the safest. However, activities like running are criticized for being too intense for pregnant women. This blog will debunk the myths about running during pregnancy, and reveal a few tips on how to safely engage in this activity with the highest health benefits for pregnant you.
Is it safe to run during pregnancy?
The short answer is yes, especially if you previously exercised on a regular basis. However, regardless of the level of physical training you had in the past, it is always best to consult the OB/GYN before starting any running program, just like you consult them for the general health of the baby, and seek advice on tests such as non-invasive prenatal paternity tests. Only a doctor can evaluate your medical state and tell you for certain if you can carry out this rigorous activity.
On the flip side, if you have never practiced any form of running, and are planning to do so after conceiving, then it’s highly likely that your OB/GYN would advise against it. Since pregnancy is causing you to gain weight rapidly and significantly, your centre of gravity is shifting too. Hence, if you are an inexperienced runner, it can cause balance issues, leading to increased aches and pains, especially in your joints. Moreover, if you have conditions like preeclampsia, severe anemia or other medical complications, running is not recommended.
Benefits of running during pregnancy
Here’s why Running When Pregnant is beneficial :
- Reduced Speed Of Weight Gain: Running itself is linked to benefits such as improved cardiovascular health and acceleration in fat loss, provided the diet is on point. Similar benefits can also be seen during pregnancy but to a lesser extent. Weight gain is unavoidable for pregnant women, as they need it to nurture the child growing within. However, running has been shown to reduce the level of weight and fat gain, leading to overall healthier pregnancies.
- Easier Labor: Although the complexity of labor can never be accurately evaluated, studies have shown that running and other forms of exercise can ease the process for pregnant ladies. It has been proven that women who had an organized exercise regimen during pregnancy had reduced labor time.
- Boost The Child’s Brain Development: Any mother would want their child to have a healthy brain and body, and running can help with this endeavor. Certain studies have shown that regular exercise can improve the brain development capacity of the unborn child. Of course, it doesn’t mean that sedentary mothers can stall the cerebral development of the baby. It just means that the rate of development is accelerated with exercise.
- Improved Fetal Health: The child’s brain is not the only organ that benefits from running. Mothers who run can also boost the bodily development of their unborn children. Problems of low or high birth weight, breathing issues, and other complications can be reduced if not minimized with this exercise.
- Reduced Anxiety: Improved mental health is another benefit women can acquire from running. Running reduces anxiety, as it increases blood flow and releases a surge of endorphins. This is a particularly potent benefit as pregnancy can be highly stressful for pregnant women and their caregivers due to the multiple responsibilities put on their shoulders.
- Reduced Chances of Postpartum Depression: Postpartum depression is an extremely complex psychological condition where new mothers exhibit classic symptoms of depression. They also have difficulty bonding with the infant. The likelihood of getting this affliction can be reduced by maintaining a running program, as it does quell anxiety.
Tips for safe Running When Pregnant
Hydrate: Drinking water on a regular basis is vital during the entire pregnancy, and it holds true during running as well. With a plethora of changes in your body, it is necessary to keep yourself hydrated to avoid over-exertion and fatigue while running.
Use Skin Protection: Your ligaments and joints aren’t the only sensitive parts during pregnancy. Your skin too can become susceptible to sunburns and irritation. Hence, use some form of organic, chemical-free sunscreen or SPF 30 when you go for a jaunt. Alternatively, jog early in the morning or during sunset to avoid the radiation problem altogether.
Comfortable Clothing: This means not only external clothing but internal ones as well. Wear sports bras that are particularly suited for pregnant women, as the growing breast size might cause pain or discomfort in regular bras. Similarly, opt for loose pants and t-shirts to maintain proper air circulation, as overheating is a far too common problem among active expectant mothers. Pick out running shoes that can support your feet and ankles, as they are particularly prone to inflammation during this time. You can even use accessories like ankle supports to further bolster your legs.
Listen To Your Body: This is perhaps the most important tip of all. You are carrying a new life in your womb after all, so it is vital to ensure the child’s safety and wellbeing. If your body shows unusual signs such as chest pains, difficulty breathing, or random pains in your body, stop immediately. This is not the time to push through discomfort and break personal records. Save those for after your delivery.
Stick To A Planned Route: As mentioned before, pregnancy changes the centre of gravity. This can make it difficult to find your balance while walking or running. Moreover, as you progress to later trimesters, your balance will be further affected. Hence, adjust your pace as you move to later stages in your pregnancy to avoid tripping or falling. This also includes planning a safe, easy route that you can stick to without facing too many unwanted obstacles that will require you to switch your balance rapidly.
To sum it up, running during pregnancy is an exercise that can accumulate many benefits for you and your child. However, it is best to follow these tips and consult your doctor regularly to enjoy this activity without fearing for your pregnancy. Lastly, please remember that if running becomes too strenuous or risky at any point, you can always switch to easier exercises like a light jog or a walk.
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