Can’t see your toes because of your baby bump? If the answer to that question is yes then running is probably not at the top of your immediate priorities. But once you have had your little one and are settling into motherhood you may decide you want to start running again.
It can be a little daunting. Can you even remember how to do it? And how many times have you heard “Women are supposed to come back better runners when they’ve had a baby!” No pressure then!
Whilst we all essentially go through the same process, the effects of pregnancy and childbirth on each woman’s body can vary dramatically. Running after pregnancy is very much like running during pregnancy; it’s a very individual experience.
If you have had a straight forward pregnancy and natural childbirth, the general recommendation is not to start running again until you have had your 6 week check-up with your doctor. Some women get the urge much sooner than that and will start after just 2 or 3 weeks and others may not run again for years. The key is to listen to your body.
If you start too soon you may find it very uncomfortable. If your pelvic floor hasn’t gained its strength back then you will be faced with the thoroughly unpleasant sensation of feeling like all your innards are about to fall out! There is a reason the health visitors will keep reminding you of your pelvic floor exercises.
As well as your pelvic floor you need to pay particular attention to your breasts. Chances are you have bought a number of new bras during your pregnancy to support your expanding chest size. Once your milk comes in you might want to buy even more! It is important to get yourself correctly measured. You are going to need a well-supporting bra more than ever. Some women grow so much they even resort to wearing two bras at a time when they go running!
So once you are ready to get out there take it slow. Your muscles need to be slowly reminded of how to run. Slow pace and low mileage. Gradually build it up. Wait a few months before you start any high intensity training. For up to 5 months (and longer if you are breastfeeding) you body contains high levels of the hormone relaxin which softens muscles and ligaments. This makes you more susceptible to injury. So easy does it.
After you have had a baby running can take on a whole new meaning. It can help you lose the baby weight; it can make you feel fit and healthy again; and it can help you rediscover your pre-baby body. Those are just the physical benefits. It can also help emotionally and mentally. Having a baby, especially if it’s your first, can be an extremely stressful and overwhelming experience. It is so important to make sure you give yourself some ‘me time’. Going out for a run gives you the option to just be alone or you can spend time running with friends. It’s a chance to re-connect with the runner you were pre-baby. If running made you happy before you became a parent then it will do again. A happy mummy means a happy baby. What more do you want?
Having only started running in 2006 Vicky has gradually increased her distance through10k, half and full marathons up to trail ultras. She recently completed her first "post baby" ultra. She is too modest to make a big deal about winning a recent 12hr track race. We’re not though – great result Vicky!
by Vicky Hart