So, one of the first things I did after I found out I was pregnant was Google if I could keep running. The lack of information on hand was surprising.
I understand that most people like to treat pregnant women (in the UK especially) like delicate little flowers and the concept of running while pregnant is unlikely to be everyone’s cup of tea. I also understand that if the pregnancy is very high risk or if there are complications that running may not be possible. I also accept that any exercise should be done under the advice of a midwife/the medical team and that undertaking research on pregnant women raises all kinds of issues (not only moral ones) so a lot of information might be outdated/missing, but surely there was some information out there on running!?
To be honest, no. I found the odd article in Women’s Running and the odd article in Running Magazine, but there didn’t seem to be much general advice. There was no “running is bad for you! Don’t do it” or “running is fine, if you feel able, carry on”.
I accept that every pregnancy is essentially slightly different, but they are also essentially the same. The same format is followed. Person is impregnated and carries it around for 9 months (ish). People have been doing this for many thousands of years, it’s not a new concept, so why isn’t there much information on running or exercise in general? There genuinely appears to be more information on coffee in pregnancy than there does on running during pregnancy.
So, I thought I’d share my experiences. Caveat is that I am not a midwife, I am not a medical professional and that this is not to be taken as anything other than my musings and my experiences. I have asked my doctor if I can run (he said yes BTW).
I’m in the first trimester now. My first trimester is, at the moment, pretty shit to be totally honest. I have morning sickness which goes on all day and peaks at 10:30pm and renders me immobile, but also appears in the middle of the night. I have dizziness attached to the morning sickness which makes me clumsy and can, when it’s really bad, prevent me from driving. I have had shortness of breath which I have been advised (medical advice) is normal and to speak to my midwife when I have my first appointment. I have incredible short term memory loss which means that I forget what I was about to say or do and has been known to prevent me from remembering where I parked my car, put my keys, if I was making tea or not. I am also beyond tired. The kind of tired that has rendered me incapable of doing much more than getting to work and back. All of this combined has meant that, so far, my running has taken a bit of a nose dive. I am still running and walking as much as I can, but it has to be factored in between the bouts of sickness and dizziness and has to occur when my husband can go running with me as I don’t feel safe out on my own.
I have made the informed decision to keep running as keeping active helps with my morning sickness (the days I don’t exercise are way worse), it’s helping to keep me sane and reaffirm that I am still a person in my own right so I should still do the stuff that I enjoy doing.
The research/information I have read indicates that running during pregnancy is good for the mother and baby as it keeps the mother fit, keeps the baby fit and helps the mother’s body prepare for pregnancy and child birth – all good news. I assume that the less weight I gain (in healthy terms), the better my cardiovascular system is, the stronger I am and the fitter I am the better chance I will have of having a smoother pregnancy and smoother birth. I’m stacking the odds in my favour.
However, clearly, I am not going to be running the ultra. I also won’t be building on mileage. I won’t be doing intense sprint raining or hill training. I think the term “little and often” applies to my approach moving forwards.
The two key things I will be doing is listening to my body and listening to medical professionals – In that order actually). I am a firm believer that my body knows what it can and cannot do and my doctor has informed me that, as long as I feel able to, I should keep running/being active as it’ll help with weight management, will reduce stress and will keep me fitter and healthier.
Now, if I could stop the sickness, dizziness and tiredness I’d be ok!