I was an avid runner before getting pregnant with my first child. I ran upwards of 30 miles per week, I ran races and marathons, and I thrived on the “runner’s high”. Then I got pregnant, and starting about the 14th week I noticed things began to change. My pelvis ached terribly when I ran. I felt unstable at times. My hips hurt, and the joy that was running started to fade. By the time I reached the 16th week of my first pregnancy, my running days were over (for the moment at least). For me, running and pregnancy didn’t mix. I still managed to be active with yoga, the elliptical machine, and lots of walking, but running wasn’t in the cards. Admittedly, I did have a mild separation of the symphysis pubis joint, which certainly contributed to my pelvic pain with running, but in talking to many women I have learned that I am not alone.
About a year after having my son I was back at it, running again and loving it, but things never felt the same as before my pregnancy. By the time my son was 15 months old, I was pregnant again. With my second pregnancy, things definitely deteriorated quicker. By week 12, running was already out, and by the end of my pregnancy my symphysis pain was pretty awful. Close to the year mark after my daughter was born, I was back into running and feeling fairly good until a serious foot injury derailed my running. While I did start running again after my children, I certainly never felt the same as before having my kids, and there were are nagging aches and pains in my hips, back, and pelvis.
This week while reading the New York Times, I came across an article entitled How Pregnancy Changes a Runner’s Body, and it was like a light when off after reading it! The article got me to chat with some of my runner friends (who’ve had babies), and we all concurred that things had certainly changed. Most of us actually still had lingering issues while running, and definitely noticed major differences pre and postpartum.
Many women find the use of a support belt during pregnancy (and even up to a couple of months postpartum) useful when running. I personally did not notice much of a change, but likely this was due to the symphysis separation. These belts can be very useful in reducing some of the pressure felt from the added bulk/weight of a pregnant belly!
There are some great running resources for pregnant and postpartum women. Some of my most favorite can be found on the Runners World website. RW has an entire page in their women’s section dedication to pregnant running. Browsing through the site can give some great tips and insight on running through pregnancy and motherhood. My most favorite is a little snapshot of great tips for running during motherhood, especially when running with your child. Make sure you check out their Motherly Advice!
You may be thinking that this sounds fairly depressing and discouraging, but do not despair! There is hope! Keep on running through your pregnancy (as long as it’s comfortable to do so!), and use the hormonal changes to your advantage in the immediate postpartum period. See Deb’s great post on postpartum health and spine alignment, and make sure to seek help from special physical therapy running clinics if you are struggling with discomforts and major changes in your running.
It’s always important to take care of yourself. Self-care sets a wonderful example for your children, and like most runners out there, getting in even a short run can change your outlook. Be assertive and mindful of any major changes that persist with your running during and after your pregnancy, and be proactive! Who knows, maybe with a little work you will be running better than ever!