Running During Pregnancy: What You Need to Know

During your pregnancy, you’ll encounter various physical and emotional changes. For many mums-to-be, staying active is an essential part of maintaining physical and mental well-being. 

But what about running? Is it safe during pregnancy? If you've never run before, can you start now? What if you've been an avid runner for years? I’m here to run through (excuse another naff pun) what’s safe when it comes to running during pregnancy. 

New To Running?

Pregnancy charity Tommy’s and NHS advice is that if you’re a seasoned runner, or jogged regularly before your pregnancy, it’s safe to continue as long as you feel comfortable. But, their advice to those who have never run or jogged before is not to start any strenuous exercise during pregnancy. This is not the time to start qualifying for the Olympics.

There are lots of low-impact exercises that will keep you fit and healthy during pregnancy. Brisk walks, swimming, Yoga, Pilates or using an exercise bike are all great and gentler alternatives to pounding the pavement – and so much kinder to your joints. Starting small will help build endurance and cardiovascular fitness, and a regular workout can improve sleep, ease back pain and boost your mood. 

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Tips for Running Safely: Advice for Track Superstars

If you’re already an experienced runner, the good news is that running during pregnancy is something you can continue to do. Of course, it’s always best to check with your midwife or healthcare provider so they can advise on any personalised recommendations based on your fitness level or medical history. 

Listen to Your Body

Pay attention to how you feel. During pregnancy, there’s a hormone called relaxin that works to loosen your joints. That, combined with increased weight gain can make running seem a little tougher during pregnancy. Stay hydrated, avoid overheating and fuel your body when engaging in any physical activity to support both you and your precious cargo. 

Modify Your Routine

In the third trimester, you may find you’re naturally slower, as you’re now carrying around a fully formed albeit tiny human being! It’s likely that you’ll need to adjust your running routine as your pregnancy progresses.

Slower the pace, shorten the distance, or work in more frequent breaks. Focus on good technique and avoid high-intensity interval training. You probably won’t be setting any personal bests during the next nine months. 

As your baby grows, your centre of gravity will change, which in turn will affect your balance. Be mindful of this if you enjoy running over trickier terrains. It may be best to stick to even ground or hit the gym for the treadmills.

Warm Up and Cool Down

Warming up and cooling down are crucial components of any exercise routine, especially when running during pregnancy. A proper warm-up helps prepare your body for the physical demands of running by increasing blood flow to your muscles, loosening joints, and enhancing flexibility. This can help reduce the risk of injury and discomfort during your run. 

Similarly, cooling down after your run allows your heart rate and breathing to return to normal gradually, preventing dizziness and aiding recovery. It also helps prevent muscle soreness and stiffness by aiding in the removal of any lactic acid build-up.

Invest in the Best Supportive Gear

Make sure you’ve got a good pair of trainers and a maternity sports bra for support and cushioning. During your second and third trimester, you may want to invest in a few pieces of maternity activewear that feel comfier around your growing belly and breasts. The good news is there’s so much on the market these days, from Nike to M&S, so you can continue to look the part. 

Can You Pass the ‘Talk Test’?

Tommy’s advice is to check you can pass the ‘talk test’. If you can’t get through a sentence or you are gasping for breath, it’s time to slow down. 

Running can exacerbate pelvic floor issues, such as urinary leakage, and if that’s happening, it’s time to consult your midwife and ease up on the running. 

You must also seek guidance if you are suffering from high blood pressure, preeclampsia, placenta previa, anaemia or you’re carrying more than one baby. 

If you experience any unusual pain or symptoms, consult your doctor or midwife immediately. 

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Running With Your Bump: The Myths

Myth: Running causes an increase in early pregnancy loss, stillbirth or neonatal death. 

According to Runner’s World, there is no evidence of any increase in any of the above, and that in fact, exercise improves placenta growth and foetal development. 

Myth: Running increases the risk of early delivery 

National Institutes of Health state that for those who want to continue running, it will not affect the birth weight of their baby significantly or increase the likelihood of a preterm delivery. 

Final word… 

Remember, every pregnancy is unique, do what feels right for you and your baby, and always check with your midwife or healthcare practitioner if you’re unsure or before starting anything new.

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