Women’s Running: Post-Pregnancy Running Thoughts

This post was originally posted as part of Women’s Running Blogger Series. You can find it here. 

I wanted to share it here as well because I think it’s such an important (and potentially controversial) topic. And, to be honest, my views on it have changed considerably over the past couple of years. If you asked me even a year ago, I would have had a totally different opinion on the subject. I’ve written quite a number of postpartum running posts that deal with my return to running and training and I don’t want those to be the only side that gets shared.

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Running through Pregnancy - Part 1

Last week, Women’s Running posted a question on twitter:

Mom Runners – how long did you wait after the birth of your child to start running again?

My husband and I have recently discussed when we might try for a 3rd child. Postpartum running, as well as all things related to pregnancy, have been at the forefront of my mind.

My first two pregnancies were fairly smooth and complication-free. I was able to run until the last couple of days (Note: I didn’t run for 4-5 weeks during the middle of my 2nd pregnancy due to some lower back pain). Deliveries were also without issue. I was given the green light from my doctor to resume physical activity whenever I felt up to it.

And so, after the birth of both boys, I resumed running VERY soon after delivery – 5 to 6 days. I started with minimal mileage (1-2 miles) and worked up to 5-6 miles of easy, comfortable running within the first couple of weeks before beginning to incorporate some speedwork into my weekly routine.

First run postpartum (baby #2)

First run postpartum (baby #2)

The quick return to running was not about losing the baby weight, beginning to train for a race, or wanting to log high mileage. It was a way to get back into the “normal” routine of running and exercising. It was enjoying that my body was 100% my own for the first time in nine months, and that I didn’t have to worry about taking it easy.  Running was about seeing how soon I could return to my routine, because the sooner I returned to running, the more hardcore I was, right?

Running during those first few weeks was just kind of average. I can’t really say that I felt great but it didn’t hurt. So in my mind, since I could run, I should run.

But the truth is I know I didn’t honor or respect my body the way I should have. My body had successfully created, carried and delivered a 7+ lb baby. It had gone through major changes for the previous nine months. And even though my body was no longer creating life, it was still undergoing major changes as it began the process to return to pre-pregnancy conditions, something I didn’t really think about at the time.

Looking back (and looking ahead), it wouldn’t have been the worst idea to take another few weeks off (or more) before jumping back into running. Recover more. Rest more. Relax more. Life was only going to get more hectic so why not enjoy the downtime while I could. Waiting longer would not have negatively affected my training for my goal race and actually may have made me stronger when I began.

If and when my family welcomes a 3rd child, I plan to focus more on enjoying the moment and worry less about getting into a routine or starting the “comeback” – I have the rest of my life to train for races.

What are your thoughts? How soon after pregnancy did you return to running? 

Would you do anything differently?

 

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    19 thoughts on “Women’s Running: Post-Pregnancy Running Thoughts

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    10. How exciting that you’re thinking about #3! :-) Great post. I completely agree that more time is not a bad thing. I thought I’d be back in a little sooner but I had no desire to do anything for the first two weeks. I squeezed in a few very slow, very short walks and that was it.
      Then by 2.5-3 weeks, my desire to sweat came back and I ventured out on some walk/runs and then began jogging every other day. I’m keeping it to 3-4 miles for now every other day. I know my body could theoretically do more, but I’ve heard so many post partum injury stories, that I want to be really careful.
      Labor has so much to do with getting back to running as well. Natural, vaginal births definitely have a faster recovery time. Other women really need those full 6 weeks (or more). But it’s hard not to compare when someone else is already up and running!
      Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted..How sleep affects cravings, weight and running performanceMy Profile

    11. I, too, had risk-free, natural births, but my midwife advised waiting 6 weeks before resuming high impact activities. I didn’t quite make it that long–I headed out at 5 weeks for a two-miler and it felt so good. I think we each just have to listen to our own bodies. I don’t think I could have headed out at 5-6 days postpartum because I was still bleeding then, and wouldn’t have felt comfortable doing that. But everyone is different.

    12. I started to run after 8 months because of pain in the hips it found it not wise to start earlier. But I must say, I think it is wise to concentrate on your recovery and adjusting to your baby before going back to an intensive trainingschedule. You have enough on your plate as it is. In this society we find it strange when a woman doesn’t do everything like she did before. My question is: how smart is it to want to run, work, be a mom, wife, best friend and keep yourself sane in the stressfull time? I say concentrate on your running but don’t get to “obsessed about it” if you need more time. And I hope you soon can welcome a newborn in your family.
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    13. Interesting topic. I’m sure I’m in the minority of mom-runners but I didn’t even think about running until 3 months post-partum with each of my kids. And then I didn’t really get started for a while after that. As much as I love running, with nursing and taking care of young babies it just didn’t feel natural to think about running. Since I nursed I also wasn’t sleeping much at all. For those first few months my life was nurse, eat, sleep as much as possible, and take care of the other kids. Additionally you aren’t supposed to put a young baby in a jogging stroller and the stroller was really my only option back then (I was very attachment parenting-ish when they were babies!) I don’t think there’s anything wrong with getting back to running earlier, just for me it wasn’t right.
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    14. My first run/walk was 2 1/2 weeks postpartum. I felt good and it didn’t hurt to run. I just remember how different it felt to run without a baby in my belly! Since this was my first baby, I was nervous about losing the weight and wanted to be back to my pre-pregnancy weight right away. So getting back to running was a priority. I think if we are blessed with another child, I will take your approach. We have the rest of our lives to run and train. Babies are only babies for so long and I want to take the time to enjoy it!

    15. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I don’t have any kids yet but I think my husband and I will probably start trying within the next year or two so I’m trying to soak up as much information about pregnancy and running as I can. I know I found your posts on handling breastfeeding while training really helpful. Thanks again for sharing your expertise!

    16. Max was a winter baby (born in December)- and I live in Ottawa – so running outdoors was completely out of the question because my sidewalks are covered in a huge layer of ice from December-March. So I did not run until March. BUT (warning: TMI) – another big reason was that I did have an episiotomy and the stitches came apart and they could not put more stitches back in – so yeah, you could imagine what that looked like. It took a full 6 weeks to close, so I could do absolutely nothing but walking for 6 weeks. Regardless of that happening, I would have taken the full 6 weeks off regardless. I am not a big person and pregnancy did take its toll. I had a lot of back/butt/hip pain. I also valued sleep and relaxed.

      I still got back into shape – better shape than before and taking 3-4 months off had no impact on getting my “pre-baby” body back. I even became a stronger runner after :-)
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