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Monday, 18 November 2013 09:20

Running After Pregnancy: Is It Too Soon?

This is a frequent conversation with my pre and postnatal gals.

Question: When can I start running again?

Answer: Probably (read: definitely) not after your 6-week check-up when your doctor "clears" you for all exercise.

(Side note, but docs, can you please use different wording with your postnatal clients when it comes to this? Running is not the same as core activation, breathing, resistance training, etc.)

Postnatal ladies, I need you to be patient with this one, because it will significantly impact your recovery in the short term and health in the long-term. Postnatal exercise is fantastic and I encourage it as soon as you're ready and feeling up for movement. Working on abdominal and pelvic floor activation exercises, retraining your breathing patterns, doing exercises such as squats, lunges, hip thrusts, pulling, and scapular slides are all amazing. They will be extremely helpful in your healing and fat loss journey, if that is a goal of yours.

Photo #1- Andrea prenatal band squats

(Working core control through band resisted squats, to increase activation of glutes)

However, running, and any high impact exercise for that matter, is a completely different story. What your body has undergone during pregnancy, labor and delivery is no joke. I've said it before, and I'll say it again (and probably continue to keep saying it :)). If you think that running is going to be your best bet for getting back to your "pre-pregnancy" weight, or into your jeans, or even get your abs back, it's just simply not going to be. There are much more effective and safe ways for you to do this, I promise you that. Read this post for your best bets if any of the above is what you're striving for.

I understand that you may love to run and I fully support you in getting back to it. But please, keep reading to find out why I need you to wait at least 3 MONTHS to pound the pavement. To be crystal clear, this is with 3 months/12 weeks of structured postnatal specific resistance training (core retraining, glute/back strengthening, breathing exercises), not just 3 months from delivery day.

1). You are mega sleep deprived. You likely do not have the ability to focus on a million things at once right now, which is what running will take when you're getting back into it. Abs bracing, pelvic floor engaged, glutes firing, diaphragmatic breathing, etc. through hundreds and thousands of steps? Sounds exhausting just thinking about it and I got a full 8 hours last night ;)

2). Your new body is unstable right now.  Not just because of the changes to muscular strength, but also because the hormone relaxin is at an all time high for first few months postpartum. This is the hormone that made it possible for your body to be able to carry a baby and birth it. It makes your soft tissues (for example, ligaments) more lax and therefore, you are far more susceptible to injury. Especially injury to hips, pubic symphysis, low back, and knees.

3). It is essential to retrain your core and floor. Your core muscles are not ready to support your body through repetitive pounding food strikes. It is a recipe for disaster. Your posture is likely not optimally aligned, especially if you are spending long days breastfeeding and carrying your baby. You probably have some degree of diastasis recti (abdominal separation) and your spine is not well supported. Your pelvic floor might not be functioning at 100% and you could be experiencing incontinence symptoms. You will exacerbate these issues with running.

Photo #3- Andrea prenatal dead bugs

(Training the abdominals through dead bugs exercises can be a great place to start)

4). Uterine and bladder prolapse are real things to be aware of. I recommend all my ladies go see a pelvic floor physiotherapist to put both our minds at ease. If you are experiencing ANY issues with urinary and/or stress incontinence, see a PFP so they can give you treatment and exercises to help rehab you. If you're having incontinence with sneezing or laughing, or if you are running wearing a pad because you're leaking, just back up and keep training the basics of core/floor healing.

5). Acknowledge you are in recovery mode and start slow. To get back out there, start building up your mileage slowly. Maybe you start your runs with 1 minute + 1 minute walking, and add 30 seconds to a minute on your run time weekly if it feels good. You will need to keep up your strength training routine as your get into a regular schedule of running. Do not let this fall off.

Good luck, ladies!

JMG

Published in Mom's Recovery

Schedule regular prenatal visits with a medical professional if you chose a care provider or make plans for your own care if you are doing an unassisted pregnancy.

If you close to a medical professional to oversee your pregnancy:

  • Ensure you feel comfortable with the care provider as this is someone you are trusting with your baby.
  • Feel free to ask any question as this is your opportunity to educate yourself for your unassisted birth, beyond your external research. 
  • Schedule your regular appointments and attempt to keep records of your own. Often a doctor can photocopy the results for you or ask the front reception. This will help build your medical binder for when you do give birth and should child services ever visit you as this can occur when they get wind of unassisted birth plans.

If you are choosing unassisted pregnancy:

When choosing an UP, you can do many of the same things they do at regular prenatal visits such as weight, blood pressure, fetal heart tones, etc. If you want a UP, information can be found and supplies can be purchased here: http://www.unhinderedliving.com/prenatal.html

No matter which option you chose, it is important to get a a formal record that you are pregnant as this makes it easier when it comes time to obtain a birth certificate. 

Here is the story my unassisted birth with my twin girls.

 Go back to Step #1: Establishing Prenatal Care

Go to the next step Step #3: Get The Proper Tests Done

Go to Birthing Methods Menu

Step 1: Choose whether you want an OB, midwife, general practitioner, or if you want an unassisted pregnancy (UP). 

 

This is a personal decision and any of the above options are great, even if you are planning an unassisted birth. Ensure you feel comfortable with your care provider, whomever it is.

If you choose OB, general practitioner or midwife:

It is up to you to decide if you want to tell people (particularly an OB) of your decision to give birth unassisted.  If you do decide to tell people, they may try to intervene or otherwise cause stress for you during pregnancy, labor, and/or birth. This stress is entirely unnecessary so use your judgement wisely on whom you tell, especially care providers.

Many moms who chose an OB, general practitioner or midwife, leave out the part of giving birth unassisted and continue the care throughout the pregnancy until the very end. This often gives the mother piece of mind in her prenatal care and relieves the stress the practitioner may place on the mother if they knew about the impending unassisted birth.

I find many moms who plan an unassisted birth, are very in touch with their bodies and have made the conscious, educated decision to birth in this manner. The presumptions of the care provider are not often true about a mother who decides to birth unassisted so often the advice to avoid unassisted birth does not apply. 

If you chose unassisted pregnancy:

Ensure you are comfortable with this decision and do your due diligence. Educate yourself! When doing an unassisted birth, you can do many of the same exam as the care provider. Look at Step 2 for more on unassisted pregnancy. 

A note here: I strongly urge you to get your partner on board with any decision you make at this stage for your care. They are concerned with your well being and the baby growing inside of you.

Here is the story my unassisted birth with my twin girls.

Go to the next step Step #2: Establishing Prenatal Schedule

Go to Birthing Methods Menu

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