Running while pregnant: is it safe?

by Bryony Firth-Bernard |
Updated on

Running while pregnant is completely safe and can help you on your way to have a fit and healthy pregnancy. In fact, exercise as a whole is encouraged during pregnancy as it will help you adapt a lot easier to your changing weight and shape.

If you ran before you were pregnant it’s completely fine to continue doing this, but be aware that naturally your pace may be slower. So don’t try aiming for any new personal bests and instead aim to maintain your current fitness level. If you weren’t active before pregnancy don’t start with anymore than 15 minutes of continuous exercise, three times a week. You can then increase this gradually to 30 minute sessions.

‘Remember you are pregnant, not powerless’ says Hannah Mills, mum, personal trainer, and pre & post natal specialist.

Running and your changing body while pregnant

Even when not pregnant, running can put a lot of pressure on the body’s joints. During pregnancy your joints start to loosen due to the hormone relaxin, so there’s a higher risk of injury.

As your body begins to change and your bump grows, your balance may begin to change, so make sure you run on an even surface to reduce the risk of falling. So if you’re someone who runs off-road on uneven ground, run on a path instead. If you feel uneasy about running out and about while pregnant, you can give the treadmill at your local gym a go instead.

When you get to your third trimester you will probably find your pace slows down as your bump is getting bigger, so don’t be hard on yourself.

Don’t worry about whether the motion during running will harm your baby as it won’t. They are safe and secure in your womb and may even enjoy the motion. However, if you do experience any discomfort or unusual pains while running, stop immediately and contact your midwife or doctor.

Top tips for running safely while pregnant

pregnant woman in park

Wear a good pair of running shoes - you may find you're a bit more wobbly on your feet, so, it's essential that you have the right running shoes that support your ankles and take the pressure off of your knees. Look for a pair with good arch support and watch where you’re going when you’re running. You can also buy arch supports to insert into your current pair of trainers, if your aching feet need a bit of extra TLC.

Wear a supportive running bra - as your breasts are changing rapidly during your pregnancy you’ll want them to be properly supported, especially during the second trimester.

Drink plenty of water -  Mild dehydration during pregnancy can increase constipation (already a problem for most pregnant women) and cause false contractions, known as Braxton Hicks. Monitor the colour of your urine to make sure you’re drinking enough fluids. It should be the colour of very light lemonade – any darker and you are already on your way to dehydration.

Don’t exhaust yourself - don’t beat yourself up about not breaking your personal best, remember you are pregnant so naturally you’re going to be slower. Always listen to your body and if you can’t hold a conversation while exercising during pregnancy, then you’re overdoing it.

Wear a belly support band - these lift and hold in the growing belly while also supporting the back, in their second trimester. Some say the bands can alleviate round ligament pain, or the aches and jabs women can feel in the lower belly and groin as the uterus expands.

Quality over quantity - focus on your technique rather than your pace. Your body is changing so you know you're not going to be able to run like Sonic so don't try to!

Benefits of exercising while pregnant

• It’s great for your mental health, as being outside and exercising releases endorphins (the happy hormone) and relieves stress and anxiety.

• It eases back, pelvic pain and constipation.

• Lowers blood pressure and reduces risk of preeclampsia.

• Improves sleep quality and energy levels.

• It reduces the risk of pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes.

• You're less likely to have delivery complications, or need an unplanned cesarean section.

• Some evidence shows active women experience less problems later in pregnancy and labour.

Can running while pregnant cause a miscarriage?

There’s no evidence to suggest that running during pregnancy can cause a miscarriage. The NHS states that exercise is not dangerous for your baby. However, if your pregnancy is complicated, talk to your doctor before starting exercise during pregnancy.

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