Active: Is there a limit to how far you should run while pregnant? Does this change as you progress through trimesters?
Dr. Stewart: While there is no specific limit to running while pregnant, as you can see from my previous answers, it depends on the intensity of the exercise of each woman. Some additional factors to keep in mind as a woman considers running in pregnancy are the changes in balance that occur, the changes in lung capacity, as well as general fatigue.
The most important aspect is to listen to your body, and be aware when you are pushing yourself too far. Also, listen to the advice of your doctor while you are engaged in intense exercise. Some specific medical complications may warrant decreasing the amount you exercise in each trimester, and if you have a history of preterm labor or fetal growth restriction, it may be reasonable to decrease your activity in the second and third trimesters.
Active: Are there any warning signs to consider?
Dr. Stewart: Women should stop running/exercising if they experience any of these warning signs: vaginal bleeding, shortness of breath prior to exertion, dizziness, headache, chest pain, muscle weakness, calf pain or swelling, preterm labor, decreased fetal movement or amniotic fluid leakage.
Women should NOT exercise during pregnancy if they have heart disease, restrictive lung disease, incompetent cervix, multiple gestation, persistent bleeding, placenta previa after 26 weeks, premature labor, ruptured membranes or pregnancy-induced hypertension.
If a woman has any question about warning signs or running while pregnant, she should contact her doctor.
If a woman stops running due to her own preference, then she can continue with other forms of exercise that she is comfortable with such as walking or yoga. She should be careful to avoid any form of exercise with a high probability of abdominal trauma. If she experiences any of the above warning signs, she should stop exercising all together.
Active: What precautions should pregnant women take when running?
Dr. Stewart: Prior to going on a run while pregnant, it is important to adequately stretch and warm up. In addition, you want to ensure that you have adequate footwear with good support. Be sure that you stay hydrated and drink plenty of water.
Active: What's the best way to get back into running after the baby is born?
Dr. Stewart: The physiologic and morphologic changes of pregnancy can last until four to six weeks postpartum. Pre-pregnancy exercise routines can be resumed gradually, as soon as it is physically and medically safe, which will vary between women.
Some women—however, not all—begin to exercise within days of delivery, and this is very individualized and dependent on each woman's recovery. The key to this is to gradually resume your pre-pregnancy routine, because regardless as to how long into your pregnancy you continued to exercise, some degree of deconditioning has occurred.
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