The ultimate running when pregnant checklist, from a running fanatic

Going for a jog while you’re pregnant may sound intimidating, but avid runner Laura Hill has this checklist of things you’ll need to be prepared. 

If you’re pregnant and want to keep running, the great news is you can. Research shows and health experts agree, that exercising during pregnancy is great for you and your growing baby.

However, certain medical conditions may prevent you from running during pregnancy, so always chat with your doctor or healthcare professional about your running and fitness plans to see if there are any changes you need to make.

If you’ve been given the all-clear to keep running, then use this checklist to help ensure you’re running is both enjoyable and safe for mother and baby.

Plan your route

It’s always a good idea to plan your route before you set off for a run, but it’s even more important during pregnancy. Run in well lit, populated areas in case you need help and choose an even surfaced path or track.

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Better still, make sure the route you take has working water fountains or bubblers. The extra weight of your uterus pressing on your bladder may mean you need to stop for a toilet break. So, plan out runs where you know there are public bathrooms along your path.

Stay hydrated

Staying well-hydrated is always important, but even more so when you’re pregnant. Pregnant women require more water because their extracellular fluid space (including blood plasma) increases, and the developing pregnancy requires fluid (the majority of which is amniotic fluid).

In addition, pregnant women lose more water than non-pregnant women. Blood volume, the work of the heart and blood flow through the kidneys all increase during pregnancy. Drink water before and after a run, and even stop and have a few sips during your workout to avoid dehydration.

Use the Talk Test

An existing unhelpful myth about pregnancy and exercise/running is that women shouldn’t let their heart rate get above 140 beats per minute. This is a very outdated guideline that was disproven over a decade ago but somehow still sticks today. During pregnancy, your body is pumping about 50 percent more blood than the average person, so your heart rate may already be elevated because of this.

A better way to gauge exercise intensity is to use the Rate of Perceived Exertion or RPE. Using a scale from 6 to 20, you choose a rating number to describe how hard the activity feels.

You base the number on how tired you are, how hard it is to breathe, and how hard it is to do the activity. Another easy way to measure how hard you’re running, or exercising is to use the Talk Test. If you can run and hold a conversation, then you’re doing fine. If you can’t maintain a conversation, your breathing is laboured or you feel tired or in pain, slow down to a walking pace or even stop.

Build and maintain strength

Pregnancy changes the shape of a woman’s body, including her posture. Rounded shoulders and arched backs are common in pregnant women and can lead to lower back pain and other niggles. To counter these potential problems, strength training should be included in your exercise or running program to build stronger core, back, hip, arm and leg muscles and joints.

Not only will it help you to carry the added weight of pregnancy, but it can build stamina, which is valuable during labour. Three great strength training exercises to do during pregnancy are:

1. Squats – to build leg strength;

2. Rows – open the chest and strengthen the upper back, which helps support good posture as your breasts grow;

3. Deadlifts – to activate and strengthen hamstrings, glutes and back muscles.

Roomy runners

Certain pregnancy hormones increase the laxity of your ligaments, which can leave you more prone to sprains and strains if you do slip or stumble while running. Do yourself a favour and invest in a new pair of runners that fit well and support your ankles and arches. This will keep your feet stable and prevent falls and injuries. Keep in mind that body changes during pregnancy may result in your feet growing and you may also experience increased swelling.

Take a look at the new ASICS Gel-Nimbus 23, which features loads of gel cushioning for a softer feel and gender-specific technology in the forefoot to help female runners engage the midsole for a smoother transition. Another great option is the all-new Nike React Infinity Run 2, which is designed to keep all runners on the run. The latest version has undergone extensive scientific testing to create a more intuitive ride and features an updated Flyknit upper that provides more strength and support, notably in the toe area, but also throughout the midfoot.

Pregnancy compression shorts

The physical impact pregnancy has on your body can occur early with some women. Lower back pain, pelvic instability or pain, sciatic nerve pain and vulval and varicose veins are common and can cause a lot of discomfort and result in women stopping moving.

Supacore’s patented CORETECH™ pregnancy support short uses the leading medical-grade compression to help alleviate aches and pains associated with pregnancy. Using body mapping engineering technology, the shorts are designed to copy the body’s core stability system and provide targeted compression throughout the pelvis and core. The seamless, soft and stretchy shorts feature flex zones that adapt to your growing baby bump for extra comfort. Anti-chafing technology avoids painful thigh irritation, especially during warmer months.

Maximum support sports bra

On average a women’s cup size will increase by two to three sizes over the course of pregnancy, but some women will increase a lot more than this, and some won’t change much at all.

Some will change early in the pregnancy and some not until the third trimester. An increase in size often leads to breast soreness, which can make running uncomfortable. Invest in a good, highly supportive sports bra to prevent breast pain while running. Some good options include the Lorna Jane Maternity Sports Bra and Brooks’ best-selling Juno Sports Bra.

Follow Laura Hill and her running adventures on her Instagram.

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