When To Stop Running During Pregnancy?

If your pregnancy is progressing normally, and your obstetrician gives the green light, you can continue running throughout your pregnancy. Make sure to stop or alter your workouts if pain or other problems arise. 

It used to be the case that women were told to hold off on intense exercise like running during pregnancy, for fear that it might harm mom or baby during this time of stress on the body. Nowadays doctors don’t issue a blanket prohibition on running or intense exercise, but read on for everything you need to consider when planning your pregnancy exercise routine. 

Is It Safe To Run While Pregnant?

For many women, yes, it is safe and even healthy to continue running while pregnant. As with many things, it is imperative that you speak to your doctor about your running routine. 

In fact, exercise during pregnancy can have a number of benefits, including better sleep, better moods, lower pregnancy weight gain, easier labor, lower risk of complications, improved fetal brain development, and less pregnancy-related muscle pain. 

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) even advises women to get around 150 minutes of activity each week. This could be “moderate intensity” activity such as walking or anything that allows you to work out while still being able to talk. It could also include higher-intensity workouts such as running if that feels good for your body. 

That said, there are a number of conditions that might make running a poor choice during pregnancy (see below). If you develop one of these conditions, you can find a less-intense workout routine that provides health benefits but is safer for mom and baby. 

There is not evidence that exercise during pregnancy will lead to increased risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, or premature delivery.

How Much Is Too Much Running While Pregnant? 

If you are already a runner, you can continue your workouts as long as you are feeling good (and your doctor agrees).

Many doctors recommend that if you are not already a runner, pregnancy is not the time to begin a running routine. In this case, find a more moderate activity to do while pregnant, and then start your running routine after delivery. 

You will have to determine what amount of running is right for you, with the help of your doctor. Some women experience nausea and fatigue in the first trimester, and may find that rest is more beneficial than running during this time. 

During the second trimester, you may be feeling better and more able to run–you may feel you have even more energy to hit the streets or trails than you did before!

In the third trimester, your body will feel very different, and you will have to assess daily whether (and how much) running is healthy and safe for you. You may begin to feel a little off-balance as your center of gravity shifts, and you may experience round ligament pain in the abdomen as your ligaments stretch. 

If you still feel good, keep running.! If not, give yourself a break and resume your workouts later (maybe with a jogging stroller!). Many competitive runners reduce their workouts by half or more during the third trimester. 

When To Stop Running During Pregnancy

How To Know When To Stop Running While Pregnant?

First, listen to your doctor. There is no reason to push workouts when you are pregnant. Your body is already working very hard. 

You will need to be very aware of your body, and make sure you take a break and call your doctor if you experience any of the following issues:

  • Dizziness or faintness
  • Chest pains
  • Uterine contractions that are painful
  • Leg swelling
  • Lack of balance due to muscle weakness
  • Vaginal bleeding, spotting, or unusual discharge
  • Shortness of breath at rest
  • Intense headaches

You should probably contact your doctor if you have any of these issues while running or exercising postpartum as well.

In addition to how you feel during your runs, there are several medical issues that may arise during pregnancy that will require you to do less-intense exercise. 

  • Multiple pregnancy – If you are carrying more than one baby, this may impact the amount and intensity your body can handle. Most guidelines are for single births, so make sure you talk to your doctor.  
  • Placenta Previa (placenta covers the opening of the uterus) – Your doctor may advise you to hold off on intense exercise until this condition resolves. 
  • Preeclampsia (high blood pressure) – Intense workouts may not be safe if they are too taxing for your heart. Talk to your doctor about whether running is a good exercise option for you. 
  • Anemia – Anemia may show up in pregnant women who are otherwise not anemic. If you have anemia, talk to your doctor about what exercise is safe. 
  • Cervical cerclage (stitching of the cervix) – If you have had this procedure, speak to your doctor about when it might be safe to run.

Do Runners Have Easier Labor? 

Maybe! Some studies have indicated that women who stay in good physical shape during pregnancy may have shorter labors. This is due to the fact that the fitness level of the body is maintained during pregnancy, and, let’s face it, giving birth is like running a marathon–you will want to keep your body in good shape leading up to the big event. 

Do you have to run to get this benefit? Probably not. Make sure you follow the guidance of your body and your doctor. Even doing moderate exercise may be the perfect thing for you and your baby. Some places offer prenatal exercise classes that are tailored and safe for the pregnant body. 

You may even want to use this time to try out a new exercise routine. If you are typically a runner, why not use this time to cross-train and develop new strengths? Swimming, power walking, low-impact aerobics, prenatal yoga, spinning, and weight training are all safe activities to do during pregnancy. Just clear any new routine with your doctor and don’t overdo it. 

Last, take care of yourself! Stay hydrated, don’t overheat, get a good support bra, wear a support belt if needed, buy good shoes, and go slow when you need to. You’ve got this.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to running during pregnancy, many women wonder when the best time to stop is. Generally, pregnant women can still run up until their third trimester, however, there are certain factors that should be taken into consideration before making the decision to continue or stop running. 

The most important factor to consider is how your body is feeling. Running can put an extra strain on your body while it is already adjusting to changes in hormones and weight gain. If you start experiencing pain or discomfort while running, it’s important that you listen to your body and take a break from your regular runs. Additionally, if you notice any bleeding or pain while running then it’s best to consult with a doctor right away. 

Another consideration when deciding whether or not to keep running is how far along into the pregnancy you are.

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