If you are not used to running
Your joints will not be used to the impact of running. But there are lots of low-impact exercises you can do, such as walking briskly, using a static exercise bike or swimming.
If you ran before your pregnancy
Aim to keep your current level of fitness in pregnancy, rather than training to get a personal best in a race.
If you are a professional athlete, talk to your trainer or coach about adapting your exercise routines for pregnancy.
It is also important to exercise your pelvic floor muscles regularly. After pregnancy you may want to return to running and a strong pelvic floor will help you get back to running comfortably after the birth.
“Before pregnancy, I used to run for 25 minutes before work. As my pregnancy progressed, I kept the ritual of my 25-minute morning run, but just took shortcuts and adjusted my route as I found myself getting naturally slower. Some days it felt hard to get out but I knew I could stop any time and walk if I needed to. Sometimes I did, but often I found that as soon I was out, the run felt good.”
Running safely during pregnancy
As your bump grows, your changing centre of gravity affects your balance. Running on even ground will reduce the risk of falling. If you usually run off-road, you could stick to the paths if the ground is uneven. Or you could try using a running track or a treadmill in the gym if you have access to one.
Later in your pregnancy you might find it is more comfortable to change to low-impact exercise, such as walking or swimming. Some people find that they are happy running right up until their due date but everyone is different, so listen to your body and be guided by what feels comfortable for you.
In the third trimester you will probably find that your pace slows down naturally as your bump gets bigger.
Running can be tough on your joints even when you’re not pregnant. During pregnancy, the hormone relaxin loosens your joints. This means there is a greater chance of injury. These tips can help you run safely:
- Wear supportive running shoes.
- Wear a proper running bra.
- Warm-up and cool down before and after exercising.
- Check you can pass the 'talk test'. If you cannot get through a sentence or you are gasping for breath, ease up.
- Focus on good technique rather than a fast pace.
- Take care to avoid falling or bumping into anything.
- Do not run yourself to exhaustion.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Avoid overheating.
- Steady running is better than high-intensity interval training.
If you have any unusual pains while running during pregnancy, stop exercising straight away and contact your doctor or midwife.
Can running cause a miscarriage or premature birth?
Running in pregnancy has not been shown to cause miscarriage or premature birth.
If you’ve been told you are at risk of having a premature birth, talk to your doctor before starting any exercise in pregnancy.
If you’ve had 3 or more miscarriages in a row, speak to your doctor or midwife before exercising during pregnancy.
Training for races in pregnancy
You can carry on running at performance level if your doctor has given you the all-clear. It’s important to talk to your coach or trainer about how your pregnancy will affect your training and about any changes you need to make. Ask to see an obstetrician who specialises in pregnancy and sport.
Make sure you eat well, drink plenty of fluids and avoid overheating.
Stop straight away if you have any pain or discomfort or if you develop any unusual symptoms. Avoid pushing yourself too hard.