Running Column

Running with the ‘Stork’

Answering questions about running and pregnancy
By Aaron Mabry | Jan 23, 2014
Photo by: File Aaron Mabry

For those of you who don’t know, my wife and I will be welcoming a baby girl in May.
Needless to say, we’re excited about being first time parents, and as you can imagine, we’ve gotten an array of advice from all kinds of people. But in the spirit of being candid, if I have one more person look me in the eye and say, “Your life will never be the same again,” I may sarcastically congratulate them for their originality, although I appreciate the sentiment.
Anyway, I’ve always taken great pride in being able to handle the needs of my wife. But as a first time father, not to mention the husband of an expectant mother, it’s been abundantly clear how little I truly knew in terms of how pregnancy affects women, not only physically, but also emotionally.
That being the case, we thought it best to take in a few classes, which are primarily for first time parents. These classes educate through both discussion, as well as videos that take you through the entire birthing process. And I do mean the entire process. And now that I’ve been educated, suffice to say that my summation of all of this is that my wife is a super human Jedi combat warrior that could easily take over our galaxy en route to the entire universe, should she choose to do so. After all, any woman who could go through what I witnessed in those videos deserves some major kudos.
So that got me thinking, in terms of exercise, how would pregnancy affect a woman’s running habits?
Granted, this was, at any rate, a truly ignorant question from a simply curious father-to-be. But I thought it best to know, in the event that my wife might surprisingly want to join me for a jog, although she has been incredibly sick throughout this entire process. After all, there are so many rules to pregnancy of the ‘do this/don’t do that’ nature that it’s difficult to siphon the ones that really matter.  
Dr. Sheeva Talebian, a maternal health expert sheds some light on some common questions from expectant mothers.   The research originates from Jessica Sebor’s article Baby Gate: Running During Pregnancy, published June 11, 2013 on womensrunning.com.

Is it safe to run while pregnant?
The Doctor: Yes! That’s the one-word answer. Running is safe anytime — during the first, second and third trimester — if you are having an uncomplicated pregnancy. You should not run if you have complications like elevated blood pressure or, in some cases, multiple gestation, that would cause an obstetrician to advise no high-impact exercise.

What are the benefits?
The Doctor: Just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean you can’t stay in shape. All of the same reasons you normally exercise — heart health, stress reduction, weight maintenance, lower blood pressure —are reasons to run during pregnancy. Additionally, women who exercise while pregnant have lower rates of diabetes and pre-eclampsia, and they are less likely to gain an unhealthy (and potentially dangerous) amount of weight. There’s even some data that suggests babies born to women who worked out while expecting have stronger cardiovascular systems.

Why is there a stigma surrounding pregnant runners?
The Doctor: Sometimes people view pregnancy as a “disability” and there is an expectation that the pregnant woman should be sedentary. But as long as a mom is smart, there’s much more good than harm that comes from exercising during pregnancy — both for her and her baby. I hope that stigma will eventually go away.

When is it safe to run following childbirth?
The Doctor: The general guideline is six weeks, which is when you usually go for a post-partum checkup. If you had a straightforward vaginal delivery, you may be able to run sooner than that. If you had a C-section or other complications, you definitely want to wait.

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