Pregnancy doesn't have to put a stop to a woman's running program. In fact, if the proper care and precautions are taken, regular exercise, such as jogging, can have some amazing benefits for both mother and baby.
Kelly Collins of RunningMomCoach.com discusses the unique challenges associated with running during pregnancy, and offers suggestions for how pregnant women can tailor running programs to safely allow for continued workouts during all nine months of pregnancy.
Tip No.1: Realize It's Possible
In most cases, "It is safe to run while pregnant," Collins claims. "It used to be that the doctors would tell women to put their feet up and relax for nine months, but now doctors are finding that this isn't necessarily the case," she says.
"For a mom to be fit can actually be very beneficial for her," says Collins. "It can make the labor, delivery and recovery go a little bit quicker."
Today, doctors believe that exercise during pregnancy can not only help women feel their best, but it can also decrease some of the usual discomforts associated with pregnancy, such as backaches and fatigue. In addition, a study conducted by researchers at Kansas City University suggests that regular exercise, such as running, can lead to a healthier heart for both mom and baby.
"But, women need to keep in mind that everybody is different," Collins warns. "I always recommend for women to get a doctor's approval before starting or continuing any fitness program while pregnant."
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Tip No.2: Every Pregnancy is Different
Collins tells pregnant women who are cleared to run to, "pay attention to the signs and signals that the body is sending. This is true for every athlete, but especially for pregnant women. If you feel light-headed, dizzy or have any contractions, stop and contact your doctor right away."
Doctors will generally advise pregnant women not to push through pain or discomfort, as they may have done during pre-pregnancy runs. It's important for women to recognize that they may not be able to run at pre-pregnancy levels. In addition, pregnancy is not the time to take up a new strenuous activity.
According to Collins, "How fast and how far you run while you are pregnant depends on what you've been doing already."
While some professional female runners, like Kara Goucher, can safely run six-minute miles while pregnant, Collins wants women to understand that running this hard is, "probably not going to be beneficial for the average woman. If she takes it easy, though, most pregnant runners can continue running."
Tip No.3: Listen to Your Body
As a woman progresses through pregnancy, she should understand that her comfort levels will change, and her exercise program should change accordingly. A pregnant woman may need to make small adjustments to her running routine to avoid putting added stress on her body, as well as her baby's.
According to Collins, it is most important for pregnant women to, "Keep hydrated and control breathing. Women should not get out of breath. If a woman starts to breathe hard, she is going to want to slow down."
Collins also stresses that it is important for pregnant women to avoid overheating while running. Just as women are advised to avoid hot tubs because of the excessive heat, they should also refrain from spending time exercising in very hot temperatures.
"On hot summer days, I might need to go inside and get on a treadmill instead," says Collins.event to add to your calendar.