Women’s Running: Post-Pregnancy Running Thoughts

Running through Pregnancy - Part 1
Running through Pregnancy - Part 1

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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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.

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    Mustela Review + Giveaway

    mustela3

    Mustela is the #1 Baby Care and Stretch Marks Brand in Europe and just began selling their line of products, including the 9 Months and Bebe lines, in Duane Reade stores across the United States. 

    Mustela focuses on selecting only the most natural ingredients to use in their products – any questionable ones such as parabens, alcohol or oils are excluded since they can be harmful to both babies and the expectant moms.

    Mustela® prides itself as being the skincare expert for babies and mothers-to-be. For this reason, Mustela® offers effective, easy-to-use products of the highest quality, designed to meet the specific needs of newborns, babies, children and expectant and new mothers.  Mustela is the leading cosmetic brand in the European pharmaceutical market for baby products.  In France, Mustela products are present in 90% of all pharmacies and used in more than 50% of maternity units for the care of newborn.

    I was familiar with several Mustela products, but hadn’t actually tried any until my second son was born two months ago.

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      Running Post-Partum: How Soon is Too Soon?

      postpartum running

      Post 4-mile run

      Are you on TwitterInstagram or Facebook? Let’s connect! 

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      I ran 5 days after the birth of my first son – an easy 1 mile run on the treadmill and then slowly increased the mileage over the next few weeks.  By the time he was 5-6 weeks old, I was comfortably running 30-40 miles/week which included long runs of ~10 miles and some speed workouts.

      I have roughly the same plan this time around.  I ran 2 miles last Tuesday (6 days postpartum) and 4 miles on Saturday (10 days postpartum).

      While most of the feedback I have gotten has been extremely positive, I have received some pushback and questions from friends / family / readers about my quick return to running.

      But how soon is too soon?  

      From my research, discussions with other females, doctor’s guidance, and previous experience, I can tell you that there is certainly not a black and white answer for this question.

      I ran until the end of this pregnancy, had an uncomplicated natural delivery, and didn’t need any stitches post L&D – and I’ve been given the green light by my health care provider to begin physical activity.

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        Birth Story

        Ryan2

        I have tried to shorten this post for the last 24 hours, but am having a hard time cutting anything out…so I apologize for the length of this post AND the number of pictures!!

        Tuesday morning I began having light cramps and didn’t feel right.  I spent most of the remainder of the afternoon lying on the floor in our playroom while my son played.  After a few hours of menstrual-like cramps, I realized it could be the start of labor – so I started tracking them.

        For the next 12 hours, I had fairly regular, albeit light contractions that got down to 6-8 min apart. My family and midwife were all on standby. I forced myself to get into bed around 11pm Tuesday night and managed a few hours of broken sleep.  Sometime around 3am (during one of my bathroom visits), I was sure that my water had broken (it was more of a slow leak). 

        I woke for the day around 5am (still having contractions) and finished packing the rest of my hospital bag and my sons favorite toys and books (he was going to spend time at his Grandma’s!).  And then at 630am, the contractions just stopped.  Literally. Stopped.  I was embarrassed and bummed. Did I just spend the last 12 hours having false labor?

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          Meet the Newest Addition to Our Family: Ryan Thomas

          Happy to be a big brother =)

          We are now a family of FOUR!

          Good Morning and Happy Monday!!!

          First, just want to say thank you to everyone for the wonderful prayers, thoughts, and wishes the last few days.

          For those that aren’t aware, my husband, son, and I were thrilled to welcome the newest member to our family, Ryan Thomas Gonzalez, last week.

          Ryan is already back to his birth weight is showing early signs of being a good eater and even better sleeper!

          I hope to have the whole labor and delivery story on here tomorrow, but wanted to share some pictures and details with you as soon as I had a chance.

          Ryan was born at 6:53pm on Wednesday, September 19, 2012.  He weighed 7 lbs 2 oz and is 21″ long.  But most importantly, he is 100% healthy!

          My husband and I are walking around our house in a daze – it sounds crazy because we’ve had 9 months to prepare, but we still haven’t come to terms with the idea of having TWO children. It feels amazingly surreal to look at both of our sons and know that they are ours!

          One of the best things so far has been our son’s reaction to Ryan.  He wasn’t interested in him while we were in the hospital but everything seemed to change the  moment we came home.  He is now anxious to “help”, wants to hold him ALL the time, and includes him in everything (sharing his food, giving high “5s”…).

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            Guilt With a Second Child

            Playing with his Thomas trains!

            Helping announce baby #2 in March!

            Baby #2 will be making his/her arrival any day now and I’m excited, ecstatic, and anxious for my son to have a sibling.  Both my husband and I come from families of multiple children and we always knew we wanted the same. He will forever have a playmate and friend.

            BUT, there is this feeling that I can’t seem to shake.  There are times during the day when I look at my son and feel sad.  I feel guilty. I feel sorry for him.

            While he points to my belly and says “baby”, I know he’s still too young to actually get that there is a real-life baby in there – a little brother or sister that we will be bringing home from the hospital.

            He doesn’t realize that sometime in the next couple of weeks, our lives will forever be changed…turned upside down as we welcome a new member to our family.  He will no longer have 100% of mommy and daddy’s attention…and our worlds can no longer revolve totally around him.

            He has been the center of our lives since day one. These days, when he wakes up, we bring him back into bed with us – the three of us snuggle, hug, and chat before we all make our way downstairs.  My husband and I enjoy our morning cup of coffee in the playroom while he cooks us breakfast in his kitchen or plays with his Thomas trains.

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              Happy Bump Day (39 weeks)!!

              38 weeks

              I have entered the two week window of my due date – did you know that 80% of babies are born within two weeks of their due dates?!?

              Appointments: I have weekly appointments with my midwife and my OB-GYN specialist (for my gestational diabetes) from now until I deliver.  Definitely thankful that I have tons of family around to help watch AJ so I don’t have to lug him to numerous appointments each week!  This afternoon is with the midwife and I’m hoping to find out if there is any news (dilated, effaced, what station the baby is at).  Yesterday was the weekly appointment with the specialist.  The lab tech confirmed what I had suspected – pumpkin has dropped and is in place for delivery!!!  Although this is great news because he/she is no longer sitting on top of my rib cage (yay!!), it is not necessary a sign that L&D is imminent.

              Energy Level: Has been through the roof the last two weeks. Despite not getting great sleep at night, I feel fantastic throughout the day and do not feel it necessary to nap with my son when he does.  The “nesting” instinct is in full effect lately – I am becoming paranoid with cleaning and organizing and making sure everything is “just right” for the baby’s arrival.  Honestly, I think the surge in energy is because of how excited I finally am for the baby to be born – the house is how I want it to look, I am calm and prepared, and everything else just feels like it’s ready…

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                Pumpkin – Boy or Girl??

                male_female_symbol

                AJ - just hours after his birth!

                When my mom was pregnant with my youngest sister, my other two sisters and I had so much fun guessing everything from the date she would be born, to the sex, to her height and weight…it made the birth a little bit more exciting (and interesting since we were are competitive with each other).  We’ve made it somewhat of a tradition – I still have the email chain from my first pregnancy with my family’s guesses…it was fun to see how close (or far) everyone was from the actual details!

                I thought it would be fun to have a little contest on here so that you can make some of the same guesses for Pumpkin!

                To make it as fair as possible, here is all the background info:

                I went into labor seven days early with my son (gave birth six days before his due date). My son was born at 12:18am.  My first labor pains began around noon the day prior. My son weighed 7 lbs 5 oz and was 20 1/2 in long at birth.

              • Pumpkin’s due date: September 27
              • At my last sonogram (32 wks) Pumpkin was 4 lb 2 oz.  My Dr said that if he/she gained an average amount of weight, he/she would be about 8 lbs if I carry to my due date.  (My son was 2 oz more at the same appointment.)
              • If you’d like to participate, please guess the following:

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                  Hospital Packing List

                  packing list

                  The idea that we will soon be a family of four became much more real this past weekend.  Since I am ~4 weeks from my due date, I figured it was probably time to pack my hospital bag (I went into labor with my son a week early and my midwife thinks that I will likely go at least that early this time around).

                  Packing for baby #1 was weeks in the making.  I found tips on websites, asked friends and family, and had a rough list that I obsessed over weeks before it was necessary to even think about a hospital bag.  And I ended up packing way too much – half of the things I brought were not even touched.

                  There was no obsessive list this time around – and I packed my bag (with the necessary things for baby #2) as well as an overnight bag for my son in record time!  (My mom lives 3 blocks from the hospital I will be delivering at so my son and husband will be sleeping there while baby #2 and I remain in the hospital).

                  I decided I would share my list and get some feedback from other moms / mom-to-be’s on what they packed / are going to pack/ wished they packed!!

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                    Happy Bump Day (37 weeks)!!

                    2012-08-21_08-52-44_897

                    Today marks the start of my 37th week…one more week until I’m considered full term! The last two weeks have been exponentially better than the 5-6 – partially because I’m able to run again, partially because I feel more prepared for the arrival of #2, and partially because I know how close I am to the end!!

                    Energy level: Although I feel great and have a ton more energy than I was expecting, last week was one of the most physically demanding ever.  In case you were wondering – planning a vacation to the beach while you are 36 weeks pregnant is NOT the smartest idea and I would highly recommend not doing it!  It wouldn’t have been nearly as tough if my husband was able to take the whole week off, but a few emergencies popped up last minute and he had to go to work three of the days.  It also wouldn’t have been as tough if my son were not going through a very clingy stage right now that required me to carry him from the condo we were staying in to the beach, and all the way to where we set up our blanket – all while holding a cooler of water and snacks and a beach bag with towels, clothes, and toys.  By the end of each day, I felt like I was barely able to stand up straight.

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                      Back to Running!!

                      35 weeks

                      After going full circle and finally accepting the fact that I wouldn’t be running until after baby #2 is born at the end of September, I have been able to run again without any pain.  Isn’t that weird how that always happens?  It’s like we have to have no expectations before we can really begin to make any progress.

                      In my last pregnancy update, I said I was turning my attention to biking.  After going to the gym a few days in a row and having some awesome bike workouts, the pain in my back started to lessen more and more.  I don’t know if it was from biking, stretching more (I was stretching before AND after biking), or just the extra few days of recovery, but after an hour long bike ride at the gym on Thursday, I felt ZERO pain.  With absolutely no expectations, I decided to hop on the treadmill and see how I felt.

                      My plan was simple – run at a nice, easy pace and stop at the smallest feeling of pain.   I ran 1 pain-free mile in 9 min.  I really wanted to keep running, but kept telling myself to have patience.  I had run 1.5 miles the week prior – and although I felt okay during the run, I woke up the next morning in pain.  So I stopped at the 1 mile mark.  I stretched, went home, and enjoyed a day with zero pain.

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                        Happy Bump Day! (35 weeks)

                        belly2

                        Another two weeks have come and gone and with it comes lots of updates regarding Pumpkin and I.

                        Glucose test – First the bad news.  I have developed gestational diabetes (GD).  I feel somewhat embarrassed saying it aloud.  I’ve had this preconceived notion that you develop GD if you are unhealthy, overweight, and/or inactive (because that is typically who is affected).   I won’t go into detail about GD in this post (check back tomorrow), but suffice to say I’m bummed.

                        Running – I was hoping to have better news to share with you here.  I went for a run on Saturday. The first mile was pain-free – I was so happy I was fighting back the tears.  It felt SO good to be out running again, to be sweating again…but then the pain returned.  It wasn’t excruciating – but it was a lot like the last time I had run (when I stupidly pushed through the pain and ended up not being able to walk for weeks), so I stopped.  I continued to feel a bit of pain for 3-4 days afterwards.  I’m at the point now where I’ve all but resigned myself to not running til after Pumpkin is born.  I’m not really okay with it – but there’s not much I can do.  BUT, the good news is that I went to the gym today and biked for 30 minutes – with NO pain!  It was fantastic.  I am still riding the endorphin high from the workout.  So, my new plan is to get into crazy biking shape over the next ~5-6 weeks!  Perfect for the IronMan I plan to do next summer!! 

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                          Pregnancy and the Marathon

                          My finish line!

                          As I approach my due date (6 weeks!!!), I’ve begun thinking back to my son’s birth…trying to visualize what it will be like this time around.  It’s easy for me to remember the moments post labor & delivery and much harder to recall the period just before.  I vaguely remember what the contractions and pain felt like (even though I chose to go epidural-free) but can clearly imagine the moments when I first held my son.

                          The more I’m bringing these memories to the forefront of my mind, the more I’m realizing that pregnancy and childbirth are A LOT like running a marathon (at least for me!).

                          – There never is “the right time” to do either.  Work is hectic, there’s a ton of other time commitments,  financially you don’t feel ready…the list goes on and on.  While having a child is much more of a long-term commitment, you realize that there comes a point where you just have to take the plunge and go for it.  And as my mom always says…everything will work out in the end.

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                            I’m Scared to Run

                            I’ve been virtually pain-free for almost a whole week.  I say virtually because there are still moments when I overextend myself and feel a small twinge of pain in my lower back/buttocks area due to Posterior Pelvic Pain.

                            The last 4+ weeks have been a roller coaster of emotions for me:

                            – During the first week, I just wanted to wake up and not be in pain.  I didn’t think it would be a long-term injury so I figured a few days off from running was probably not the worst thing for my body.

                            – By the second week, I was frustrated that the pain was still there – and still SO strong.  I no longer thought about running – I just wanted the pain to go away so I could walk normally and take care of my son.

                            – The third week came and I started to see/feel major improvement.  I was limping less and able to do most things again!  My spirits were higher than they had been in a while because I was hopeful that running was just around the corner.

                            – The fourth week was a letdown.  Although I felt better, there were still periods of pain and so running was still out of question.  I passed a major milestone:  This was the longest I had EVER gone without a single run (since starting long distance running in 2002).

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                              How To Avoid PPP During Pregnancy

                              As I’ve discussed in earlier posts, I developed Posterior Pelvic Pain (PPP) at week 29 of my 2nd pregnancy.  One of the first questions I asked my chiropractor and my OB-GYN was what caused PPP?  I had made it through my first pregnancy with no complications, so why was I having issues this time around?

                              Was it something specific that I did?  Could it have been avoided?  Was it my fault???

                              PPP is pain felt at or near the sacroiliac joints (SIJ) of your pelvis as a result of sacroiliac joint dysfunction.   This dysfunction occurs when the stability of the SIJ is comprised.  During pregnancy, mechanisms stabilizing the SIJ is affected. This instability allows for increased motion, stressing the SIJ.

                              1. Hormones (specifically, relaxin) released during pregnancy relax the ligaments of the body to allow the pelvis to enlarge, in preparation for childbirth
                              2. Due to the growing uterus, some of the core muscles around the pelvis get ‘stretched’ and weakened. (Source: www.coreconcepts.com)

                              After a detailed discussion with my chiropractor, we came up with a handful of reasons why I developed PPP.  According to him, it probably wasn’t just one thing – it was the combination of all of these things.  My body was already dealing with the stress of pregnancy – piling on another 4-5 new stresses (for me) was too much for my body to handle.

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                                Happy Bump Day! (33 weeks)

                                belly

                                It’s been SIX weeks since my last pregnancy update.  Between a few mini-vacations with the family and being a bit mopey and pouty about my lack of running, I haven’t had the heart to do an update. BUT, my back pain is almost totally gone and I’ve come to terms with the prospect of having to wait until post delivery to run again, so my mind and heart are in a better place.

                                Today marks the start of my 33rd week.  Part of me still hasn’t fully accepted the fact that I could be holding a newborn in just 5-6 few weeks (I was a week early with my son).

                                Running – Not much to update here as I haven’t gone on a single run since July 9th.  I have a chiropractor appointment today and am hopeful that we will be able to begin discussing a tentative timeline to return to running.  The last few days have been glorious – almost no back pain and I’m finally walking without a silly limp.  The hardest thing has been trying to stay positive and prevent the I feel crappy feeling from the lack of any sort of exercise (other than easy walking). Running GIVES me energy and makes me happy (as I’ve discussed in previous posts) so I’ve been trying my hardest to not let my lack of running get me down the last few weeks.

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                                  Friday Night Cry Session

                                  I normally don’t complain on here or blog about things that get me down.  I try to stay pretty positive and would consider myself a glass-half full kind of girl.

                                  But the recent pain in my lower back has made the last two weeks extremely tough:

                                  • I’m frustrated that the pain is affecting my parenting abilities.  I haven’t really taken my son anyplace lately because of my inability to keep up with him – so no park visits, no walks, no trips to Target or other stores.  He’s a vivacious 18 month old who wants to run around and play and the pain is preventing me from allowing him to do this.   I’ve also been told by the chiropractor to pick up my son as little as possible.  While he definitely prefers to be running around, there are countless times when he wants to be held during the day.  How am I supposed to not hold him or carry him up the stairs at bedtime?  It’s pretty hard to expect him to understand why mommy no longer can pick him up.
                                  • I haven’t run since Tuesday, July 10th.  Today is Day 11.  This is the longest I have gone in over three years without a single run.  Although I’m still praying to be able to run soon, I am losing hope and am already planning and expecting the worst – that I will not be able to run until after delivery of baby #2.
                                  • It’s been SO hard to stay connected via social media.  I’m so proud and happy of all the other running mamas out there, but I would be lying if I said that I didn’t have a tinge of jealousy each time I read a post from some of my favorite running-for-two ladies: Janae, Sarah, or Nicole.  They are all running AMAZING miles still and I ache to be running with them.  It’s also extremely tough to read about everyone training for fall marathons, getting long runs in, and being so enthused about running.  So my reaction is to disconnect and mope (I know – I act like a little kid in this situations).
                                  • I made a stupid decision.  I began transitioning to minimalist shoes three months ago – so during pregnancy.  Do you ever do something that you know in your gut is not the smartest but you do it anyway?  Well that is what I did a few months ago.  I’ve been wearing the SAME shoes since 2007 – and have had no injuries or issues.  About three months ago, I decided to try out some low heel-to-toe drop shoes.  I slowly transitioned my way into them and have been wearing them for about 2/3 of my runs.  Based on what the chiropractor said today, it likely helped cause the pain that I am dealing with now because the change is too much for my body to adapt to (while it’s dealing with all the other changes going on).  So if I do get the chance to run again during pregnancy, it’ll be back to my Mizuno Wave Alchemys.

                                  I reached a breaking point last night.  I had just returned from an afternoon with my son at my mom’s.  I needed to get some lab work done for my OB-GYN and had a chiropractor appointment with a second doctor (for a second opinion) and my mom watched my son for the afternoon while I went to both.  My husband was in the city meeting up with some friends for dinner and drinks, so after putting my son to sleep in his crib, I walked into our bedroom, plopped on the bed, and proceeded to ball my eyes out for a good solid 10 minutes.

                                  There are times when a good cry is the best medicine.  Last night was one of those times.

                                  But since I do try to stay positive, there is some good news to share.  I went to a new chiropractor yesterday.  He diagnosed me over the phone a few days ago based on what I told him and confirmed his diagnosis yesterday: Posterior Pelvic Pain (aka Sacroiliac Joint Pain).  This is what I initially diagnosed myself as having.  He is a sports chiropractor and RUNS – so he understands my desire need to get out and run.  My Sacroilliac Joint (SI) was misaligned.  He realigned it yesterday as well as massaged out / stopped the muscle spasms that I had.  He wants to see me three times a week for the next few weeks.  I have to ice and do a series of stretches for a good portion of the weekend.  He is hopeful that I will be up and running soon – but has already cautioned me that some women do not get the relief that they hope and have to deal with pain until labor.

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                                    Posterior Pelvic Pain

                                    It’s 630am.  My husband and son are enjoying this beautiful scenery and weather as I sit alone in our hotel room.  It’s not where I want to be.  But, unfortunately, I am in a good amount of pain and am  having trouble walking.

                                    Let me backtrack a moment.  I began feeling some discomfort in my lower back / right buttock area Monday afternoon.  I tried to keep off my feet as much as I could for the rest of the day.  I attributed it to a busy morning with my son which required me to hold him much more than I have been (with clothes and shoes he is about 30 pounds).

                                    I woke up Tuesday and felt good so decided to go for a run.  The pain re-emerged within minutes of beginning the run but I was hard-headed and convinced myself that it was probably normal pregnancy aches and pains and so I kept running.  Sometime around 10 minutes in, the pain had dulled and I ended up running a slow 7.5 miles.  I felt *okay* the whole run – not great but not terrible either.  The instant I stopped running, the pain returned – but was a HUNDRED times worse.

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                                      4th of July and Why I Need To Run

                                      Pretty good stride for an almost 18 mo old!

                                      Hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July!!  My husband and I took our son to the beach for the first time this year.  I knew he would enjoy the sand and water, but I wasn’t prepared for HOW much he would love it. It was a perfect day.

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                                      I haven’t posted much since last week…I wish I could blame the busy weekend and holiday, but in reality, my lack of blogging has been tied directly to my lack of running.

                                      I ran yesterday for the first time in a week – I honestly can’t remember the last time I went SEVEN days without a single run (I didn’t even go that long after my son was born!!).  I attempted running five days last week…but due to some pregnancy side affects (I won’t go into detail as it’s TMI for public consumption), I was unable to run.

                                      I don’t know if there is anything more frustrating than having the desire to run – setting the alarm each day,  getting dressed and even heading outside to stretch – only to find that you physically can’t run.

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                                        Random Things I’m Loving

                                        I have a lot of random thoughts going through my head lately and decided to share some of the things that I am currently LOVING!!

                                        – Third Trimester  – Today officially marks the start of the 3rd trimester.  Knowing that I am in the home stretch is a wonderful feeling.  I will do a pregnancy update next Wednesday as well as a 2nd trimester running update soon!!  One of the books that I utilized SO frequently during pregnancy #1 (and again this time around) is the Runner’s World Guide to Running & Pregnancy.  My favorite quote from the book:

                                        When I reached the 20-mile mark in my first marathon, a man on the sidelines yelled, “Congratulations! You’re halfway there.” I knew instinctively what he meant: The hardest part, the real test of my strength, lay ahead in those last 6.2 miles. And he was right.   So goes it with the last trimester of pregnancy…Running typically becomes less and less enjoyable as the weeks pass.

                                        Cooler Temperatures – I don’t know about you, but last week’s heat and humidity came a little too soon for me. I am fully expecting days like that in August but was not ready for them in June!!  The last few days have been blissful – A/C off and windows open in the house, long sleeve running shirts in the AM, and sweaters for early morning/late night walks with my son.  Perfect.

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