Running in Pregnancy and Post-Birth
What You Need to Know from Women’s Health Physio, Beth Scott.
Beth Scott is a Women’s Health Physiologist with over 10 years experience and a strong passion in helping women, to stay healthy and active, particularly in the perinatal period.
Beth returned back to university twice, completing Post Graduate Certificates in both Sports Physiotherapy and Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation.
Since then, she has become a busy mum of two little ones, and understands the daily challenges a lot of women face.
Beth’s passion is to help women achieve their fitness goals safely and effectively, with a particular clinical interest in post natal exercise.
Listen to this incredible Podcast as we interview Beth on Running in Pregnancy to help new Mothers around the world.
Running in Pregnancy
It’s important to know what the impacts running can have on the body pregnant.
The questions to ask yourself are:
What is your prior level of fitness or exercise?
Pregnancy is not the time to increase the level of activity to such a high intensity, so if you have not run before pregnancy, it is now not the time to start.
Have you got clearance from your doctor?
Ensure you get clearance from your health care professional to ensure there are no risks or complications
Do you have a health care professional?
It could be a good idea to work with a women’s health physiotherapist if you have been given clearance by your doctor to ensure your your muscles (including pelvic floor) are in balance.
And you are not doing damage to your body with the affects of gravity and pressure.
When to Stop Running when Pregnant?
There is no answer to this question as there is no magical ‘week’ to stop running. You need to tune in to your body, and this can’t be expressed enough.
Listing to your body is the most important thing to do in your pregnancy.
Impact on Pelvic Floor
It may not have a negative impact on your pelvic floor in post-birth recovery, but it may.
The affect on your pelvic floor is one branch to consider about the when deciding to incorporate running into your routine. The hormones in your body and weight gain are also things that can have an impact on your experience.
Pregnancy hormones impact the pelvic floor in a negative and positive way.
The force of gravity has an impact on your pelvic floor downwards, compared to swimming, Pilates or yoga.
We know that if there is an excessive downward force on the ligaments that support your pelvic floor muscles can have an negative impact.
Working Out Too Hard in Pregnancy
Be mindful of how hard you are working out in pregnancy and the impact that will have post-birth.
Staying fit and healthy is important, but putting too much pressure is not helpful and potentially could make your recovery harder post-pregnancy.
People are in a rush to get moving, and often go too hard too soon.
Going well at your six-week postnatal check with your doctor doesn’t mean you should start running straight away.
You don’t want to have regret later on that you went in too soon.
Just as in pregnancy, there is no magical number of weeks until you can start running postpartum.
How was your birth, what are you demands at home, what support do you have, how are going with sleep and rest?
There is an individual journey for each woman and tuning inwards to how you are feeling as well as getting expert individual assessment from a trained health care professional is important.
Building up to running is also very important. You wouldn’t run straight after knee surgery. You go through recovery first.
That’s why our PregActive for Mamas program is a 12 module solution to help build your strength and stamina progressively.
Mode of Birth
Birth and delivery mode needs to be considered in terms of pelvic floor recovery post-birth. If you have had a caesarean, pelvic floor is still very important.
Why Do You Want to Run?
Often it’s that feeling of freedom or a quick sweat that women want post-birth, which is why going for a run seems like a good idea.
Before you jump back into high intensity it’s important to progress strength. This is where the PregActive for Mamas Online Studio is here to help you reduce your risk of issues months, or even years down the track.
Your Vagina is Shaped Differently to Hers
How can some women run with no issues and others it seems impossible. Sometimes women don’t even know what is going on in their own body.
Everything looks okay on the outside, but on the inside it could be a prolapse waiting to happen.
Women’s Health Physiotherapist have skills and tools to assess a women’s pelvic health postpartum.
The dimensions of your pelvic outlet can change during your pregnancy and birth (regardless of vaginal or caesarean delivery).
If the pelvic floor is sitting in a wider space, it has less support and a higher risk of prolapse if there is too much pressure (i.e running or high intensity exercise).
Genetics have an impact on this too. You could be at a higher risk of the pelvic floor sitting in a position that doesn’t support the pelvic organs as well as it once did.
You can still be strong, but if anatomically this outlet is wider, you are at higher risk.
It is known that proper recovery postpartum can help recover this (including corrective pelvic floor exercises), but it’s even more effective if done straight after birth and not years down the track.
The body is so individual, never compare yourself to someone else. You don’t know how their body is coping, and need to be aware on how your body is going to cope.
You can’t access yourself for this, which is why a pelvic floor examination is important.
Going in too quickly to running or high intensity exercise could impact how you travel in consequences pregnancies and your recovery after those pregnancies.
It’s something a lot of women don’t think about until it’s too late.
Having issues such as a dysfunctional pelvic floor or a pelvic organ prolapse can affect you mentally and emotionally. Be mindful of this before you head out for a run, a walk might be a better idea.
Advice to a New Mother Wanting to Run
What’s some advice you would give women wanting to get back into running?
Don’t go in too quickly. Never has a woman regretted taking her time with postpartum recovery. Many a time women have regretted going in too quickly.
How to Know if Your Pelvic Floor is Strong Enough
How to know if you pelvic floor is strong enough to run is a question that you need expert, individual advice with.
It’s not something you want to ‘test out’ for yourself. If you go for a short run and don’t pee yourself, it’s not a sign to then go for a longer run, as you could potentially be doing more damage.
In saying that, for some women running is fine and they have no issues ongoing. Just remember that ‘your vagina is not like hers’ and not to compare yourself to someone else.
We’re talking in respect to running, but this is important information for every day bra-wearing too. Seeing a specialist that can fit you is a really good idea, especially for new mothers.
Breast tissue are subject to gravity and it’s important that we are supporting, but not putting too much pressure.
If you are just layering old crop tops, it might not be helping.
Your sports bra that you had before pregnancy isn’t going to fit.
The support of the bra itself needs to be around the torso area. It’s like wearing a back back, the straps around the shoulders shouldn’t be doing all the work.
Think about the compression, you don’t want to be blocking your ducts that can increase your changes
Feeding before you run is important. Don’t run if you are due to feed.
Making sure you get fitted properly is important. A sports bra that can work with your breasts as they fill and release if breast feeding is also something to consider.
Supportive Footwear and Running Surfaces
Choosing the surface that you run on is important. Hard concrete is not forgiving. If you have an athletics track near you or running on gravel or grass can be a softer option.
Getting a new pair of shoes is important. You need optimal support and you may have potentially changed size.