Greetings! A few friends have asked about my postpartum running journey, so I wanted to share my experience. After two babies in two years, I have some insight on the matter. What you’ll find in this post is simply a window into my own return to running. I was monitored by my obstetrician throughout my pregnancy while I ran and followed the advice of my doctor once both of my children were born. As a disclaimer though, I am most certainly not a doctor, so please follow the guidance from your physician. Enjoy some snapshots from my pregnant and postpartum running days in this post — the man you see in many of them is my dad 😉
Pregnant running is a whole new ball game. Running in the first trimester was rough, but it was manageable. I personally loved running in the second trimester best — when my bump wasn’t so big and I still had a reasonable range of motion with my legs. I decided that running in my third trimester was a means to an end, especially after week 34. I wanted to keep running, even though I wasn’t always happy to get out the door. My OB once saw me running during the last six weeks and told me she was proud to see me “waddling”. I wasn’t speedy, but I was moving — and that mattered most.
One important note about my return to running was when my little ones were born. James was a winter baby; Rose was a summer baby. Returning to running after Rose was a whole different ballgame than with James. With my summer baby, the frequency of my runs increased around six or so weeks postpartum. With my winter baby (who also happened to be born in the worst winter we’ve ever had in New England), I wasn’t running more than once or twice a week until at least twelve weeks.
I know many people think women running with a bump is nuts, but I promise you — it is not. A pregnant body does an incredible job adapting. Once a baby is born, there is every expectation that a mother will just magically be right back to where she used to be. Nope. There are a lucky few for which this happens — and if you’re one of them, rejoice. I had my first at 29.5 and my second at 31. Things just didn’t fall right back for me. Breastfeeding is a wonderful thing a woman can do for her child, but it also requires constant awareness to one’s hydration (which causes a joyous postpartum issue…) and one’s supply. Exercising too much can affect the supply and drinking too much can cause really unpleasant running conditions. (cough)
With James, I stopped nursing at six months. Rosie is six months and we’re still on our breastfeeding journey. Breastfeeding is seriously miraculous, don’t get me wrong, but I will say that I didn’t rediscover my joy in running until I weaned James. It is a serious struggle for me to get out the door these days, partially because of the cold and partially because I just feel like a lug. I am one of those few people who can’t wait for her ladies to return to their non-milk producing state, though I will keep feeding Rose as long as she’s interested in what I have to offer.
Coming back to running post-baby is no small feat. Taking it one day at a time is the best mentality, but these four snippets of advice may also help:
- Set realistic expectations for your return. For example, I try to trim off 10-15 seconds per month on my overall average speed. If speed isn’t your goal, add mileage gradually — maybe a half mile a week, spread out across your runs.
- Know your body will tire more quickly, but also know you WILL get it back. It just takes some serious dedication and understanding.
- Only buy dark running shorts or pants for a long time. You’ll thank me later. My cute pink running shorts are in my drawer for the time-being, as are my pretty light grey leggings. (If you’re looking for options, I am especially loving these shorts and these pants for postpartum runs. The shorts run just a bit longer, so they do not get caught up in your post-baby thighs and do not cut into your midsection. The pants do an especially great job of holding in all your “jiggly bits” and masking other issues…)
- Shake off the “bad” runs and know that better ones are ahead. Remind yourself that you got out there — and that’s what matters most. Better runs are coming.
If you have any one-off questions, I am happy to answer them. I am not an expert nor can I offer medical advice. (Always follow your doctor’s orders!) I don’t want to downplay how grateful I am my body allowed me to stay active during my pregnancies — and to resume my running when I did. Whether you’re a lifelong runner or a newbie, you can do it… just don’t give up before you even start. I hope my honesty wasn’t too scary — and I’d love to hear if you have any other tips.
P.S. Looking for some great active gear while pregnant? Here are my favorites!