Pregnant Running

I know what you might be thinking: Running while pregnant? Like, while carrying 20 extra pounds? And feeling exhausted/nauseous/all sorts of hormonal?

Why, yes. That's exactly what I'm talking about!

If you've ever wondered if you could continue to run while pregnant and what that would be like. Or if you've wondered how on earth to get your fitness back while breastfeeding and barely existing on two hours of sleep a night, then I've got some information for you!

See, I did it. I ran through my pregnancy, up until 38 weeks.

And, people, let me remind you that I'm no young mama. I turned 40 while I was pregnant with my second son so, believe me, if I can do it, you (provided you don't have any complications) can do it, too!

Love the t-shirt my awesome friend, Jen, gave me!

I loved "running for two." It made me feel strong. It kept my weight in check. Kept my energy levels up. Just generally made me feel good.
And I didn't just run. I raced, too, putting up some decent times:

Jaws Youth Fund 5K (6/10 -- 6mos. preggo): 29:35
Freihofer's Run for Women 5K (6/10 -- 5.5 mos. preggo): 27:11
Mother's Day 3.5-miles (5/10 -- 4.5 mos. preggo): 29:59
Winter Marathon Relay, 5.7-miles (2/10 -- 2 mos. preggo): 50:25

That's me in the blue at the Jaws Youth Fund 5K, 6 months pregnant
I was careful to listen to my body when I was running while pregnant. I ran a little shower than normal, progressing to a lot slower as the months wore on. I ran for shorter distances. I took breaks. I also always carried my cell phone and a slip of paper that said I was pregnant and listed my ob's number. Pregnancy is no time to fool around with emergencies! I also did some exercises to keep my legs strong, including some that freaked my toddler right out.

Running During Pregnancy Resources:

Because I ran throughout my pregnancy, I was able to bounce back fairly quickly after giving birth. I started running again two weeks after my son was born (after stopping at 38 weeks) and ran my first race exactly two months after he was born:

That arrow? Yeah, pointing to me in my first post-baby 5K, which I finished in 25:50.

After feeling pretty good in that race, I picked up the running and decided to train for a half marathon. Getting out to run during those first few weeks and months helped me to feel like I was "back to normal" quicker than I probably was. I needed the mental boost, especially because my son wasn't a very good sleeper and was pretty cranky when he was awake. Having a plan to follow forced me out the door even when I was beat -- and I always felt better when I returned from my run!

I ran a 15K as a tune-up race, when my son was four months old:

It was freezing that day!

And then went on to rock a half marathon when my son was 5 months old and still exclusively breastfeeding. Want proof? Here I am breastfeeding, right before the start of the race:

Was it tough to train for a half with a newborn? You bet. As I said, I was exclusively breastfeeding and my son was a terrible sleeper. I also have an older son so my time was limited. But, it was something I wanted to do for myself and so I made the time to run and run well. No excuses. 

And it was a wonderful experience. Running 13.1 miles 5 months after giving birth will boost your confidence and self-esteem like few other things can (OK, maybe running a marathon, sure). Believe me. The sense of accomplishment is incredible. I was floating for days afterward.

After that half marathon, I continued to run well. I set a new 5K PR, a 15K PR, ran another half marathon and set a new PR, and I won the women's division of a 10-mile race. All within that first year after my son was born.

I am, if nothing else, proof that you can run strong after having kids.

Am I the fastest runner around? Um, no. Not even close. But, I'm getting it done. I'm running well. I'm balancing my time with my little guys with my dedication to my running. And I thank all of my pregnancy runs for setting me up for those new PRs!

The point of all this is that you don't have to give up the run in order to have kids! Pregnant? Keep running! Breastfeeding? Run ON! Juggling sleepless nights, dirty diapers, toddler tantrums, and all the many, many other things moms have to do? Run, run, RUN!

For real. Run.

Did you run while pregnant? Did your wife (girlfriend/whatever)? Got any tips? Let us know!!

Thanks, as always, for stopping by!

~ Felice

(More of my posts related to pregnant running are HERE.)

Disclaimer: Yeah, I'm no doctor nor am I any sort of pregnancy expert. The information provided in this post is based on my experience and research. Please check with your doctor if you decide to run while pregnant.


Unknown said...

Hi, I remember reading your blog during your pregnancy because i was pregnant too. I think you were ahead of me. My son was due 19/11/10 and i also did run till week 38 but i got motivated to keep on going because i knew you were doing the same until the day your shoes retired :)
I am planning on the second now :)
Thanks for your inspiration!!

Michele said...

I stopped running early in my pregnancy. I was just so sick. I wish I would have stuck with it though because I'm now 10 weeks after his birth trying to build back up to even trying to run! I'm also EBF and sometimes I have a hard time with timing of feeding him and exercise. I have to exercise right after I feed him since otherwise my overly large milk makers HURT! Did you have any problems with milk production when you were running and ebf? I find that I lose some ability to make enough if I don't really time everything correctly.

Felice Devine said...

Ness -- good luck with #2!!

Michele -- I didn't have any problems. I was really fortunate with my milk production and it was never really an issue. I would feed my son right before heading out for a run, wear two sports bras, and it was pretty much OK. There were a few times on longer runs when I needed to RUSH to get back to feed him because I felt like I was going to explode, though. But, other than that I had no problems. Sorry you're having trouble!!

Katie @ Legally Fit said...

Felice, this page is so inspiring! I had to stop running when I was around 28 weeks pregnant. My daughter is five months old now and I am just starting to get my groove back. I am SO impressed that you ran a half while ebfing and with a poor sleeper- you are amazing!

Becky said...

Oh, Felice. How I love your blog. I'm 28 weeks right now, and still running 12-18 miles a week. I keep your old running/race reports bookmarked for motivation.

I was 10 days from the Boston Marathon when I found out I was pregnant, so I ran it anyway, nice and slow, at 6 weeks pregnant. I ran 20 miles the day I think I conceived, 12 on the day I found out, and am now in training for a 10 mile race at 33 weeks. I'm slower now, but mostly because I walk a lot, and I haven't had any pains or issues yet, so I'm feeling VERY lucky.

My midwife, however, has not been supportive. She's against 'high-impact' exercise in the third trimester and insists that running is dangerous to the baby because I could deprive him of blood/oxygen. I've found ZERO medical evidence for this online and LOTS of examples of women who ran through all 9 months then had healthy babies and breastfed beautifully. But still, it's my first baby, and I worry.

THANK YOU for giving me comfort. And being part of my argument for why I should still be allowed to run.

pregnancy said...

I didn't have any problems. I was really fortunate with my milk production and it was never really an issue.

Curious Runner said...

This is so cool! I've loved reading this. I am currently 33.5 weeks pregnant but stopped running when I was about 25 weeks. I have recently felt like I want to start again but think I will just wait until after baby is born. You are great a great inspiration for post baby running, thanks! I will definitely be coming back to this when I am back in training after baby :)

Rachael said...

Love that someone else is doing this! I'm 38 weeks pregnant with my fifth and still running--I ran 5 miles 3 days before delivering my fourth, so hopefully I'll get there again. I've found that signing up for a half-marathon in my first trimester is the best way to keep myself motivated. :-)

Unknown said...

I'm 6.5 months pregnant now. This is my 3rd. And I just turned 40. I have people telling me that I should stop and others encouraging me. I listen to my body and run when I can (which turns out to be about 2 days per week now) and have cut my mileage to 4-6 miles per run (mostly bc I can't seem to replenish myself nutritionally if I run more than that and feel blah all day). I also bike twice a week and so strength work outs twice a week. I'm so inspired by your blog. Thank you! Scoured the internet for all pregnancy running blogs I could find!! Thank you for sharing your experience with the world!!!

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