Can you run when you are pregnant?

Since you found out that you are pregnant, you would have liked to keep running but everyone around you serves you some good old myths. What should you do?

Running while pregnant

Running during early pregnancy can worry many women. The popular belief is that running increases the risk of miscarriage in the first trimester. However, no study has yet demonstrated a link between running and the risk of miscarriage, preterm delivery and rupture of membranes. On the contrary, several studies have shown the benefits of running. A woman who used to run on a regular basis and who has no medical condition during pregnancy can continue her training during pregnancy if she reduces its duration and intensity. Nevertheless, when she does, she must be able to maintain a conversation without gasping for breath. Running is excellent for the cardiorespiratory system, improves blood circulation, controls weight gain and helps regain your weight faster after birth.

It is not recommended for a woman who did not run regularly before to undertake running during pregnancy. However, if you are healthy, if you have no knows medical issue and if you ran regularly before pregnancy, you can keep running. It is not recommended to pursue this activity if, at any time during pregnancy, you have active bleeding (every day) or signs of placenta previa (second and third trimesters), leakage of amniotic fluids or premature contractions. If one of these signs appears during training, stop running, relax for a few minutes and come back walking!” recommends Pascale Desaultels, obstetrician-gynaecologist.

A little test

You think you are ready to run during pregnancy but are you really? If you answer yeas to all the following questions, if you have no medical condition and if your health care professional approves it, you can keep running during pregnancy.

  • Before your pregnancy, did you run at least three times a week, for 20 minutes per session, for at least six months?
  • Do you have a healthy diet?
  • Are you aware of your limits and ready to reduce the intensity of your sessions during pregnancy?
The opinion of the coach

It is important to exercise your pelvic floor and strengthen your upper body. These exercises are important for women who run during pregnancy to reduce the impact and weight of the foetus on their pelvic floor.” says Richard Chouinard, responsible for practical training at the Kinesiology division of the Faculty of Medicine of l’Université Laval and training specialist.

Pregnancy specificities

Running can be difficult during the third trimester of pregnancy because of the pressure on the diaphragm and the extra weight of the growing foetus on the pelvic floor, among other things. For some women, the baby’s weight causes discomfort in the pelvic region. For others, running will be part of the routine until the end. If you feel severe pain in the pelvic area when you are running, it might mean that your body is not adapting well to this sport. In this case, it is better to stop. If you are still running during your third trimester and if your doctor notices that your baby is dropping prematurely, stop running. However, if the baby drops during your 39th week, it is a good thing. Urinary incontinence could appear or reappear during the third trimester when you are running. If it happens to you, talk to your doctor or midwife who will verify if it is amniotic liquid.

Tips and advice
  • If you run out, make loops near your house. If you are tired, you can easily go back.
  • Plan a path with toilets and water!
  • Dress properly to avoid being overly warm – you might get warmer faster during pregnancy.
  • The surface on which you are running is also a factor to consider. Dirt trails should be preferred to minimize impacts.

Several athletes keep running during pregnancy to get back in shape quickly and remain competitive after birth. Even if it is not recommended for most women, some athletes even take part in “friendly” races during pregnancy. These athletes often have access to health professionals who follow them during pregnancy.

If you wish to attend a race, talk to your doctor. If you never ran the suggested distance, even if you run regularly, it would be wiser not to run or to run a distance at which you are accustomed. In any case, do not take part in a sporting event in hot and humid weather.

By Melanie Olivier and Elise Hofer

Elise Hofer

Mother of two, Elise Hofer is an accomplished sportswoman in alpine skiing, cycling and running. She holds a Bachelor of Management Degree and promotes an active lifestyle by getting involved with top athletes in the organization of corporate hiking and in various foundations.

Mélanie Olivier

Sports dietician-nutritionist, Melanie Olivier is a former elite skier. Her work with many athletes led her to accompany the Canadian delegation at the Olympic games in 2006, 2008 an 2010. In addition to leading her own nutrition team of experts, Melanie is an experienced lecturer and trainer as well as an appreciated media collaborator.

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