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The best & the worst of running while pregnant

Posted Sep 13 2011 12:00am

DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on tv.  Whether or not running during YOUR pregnancy is a good idea for you is a decision that should be made based on the advice and counsel of your OBGYN or other medical professional who will be monitoring your pregnancy. You should not by ANY means simply assume that just because this running mom blogger is running while pregnant (RWP) that you should too. For that matter, how do you even know that I am a pregnant running mom blogger? I could be a hairy morbidly obese middle aged man in my underpants who takes great pleasure in his multiple online personas on of which happens to be a pregnant running mom. You just never know. (Be careful online folks! There’s a lot of creepos out there. But I digress…)

Motherhood starts well before your little miss or mister makes their grand entrance into the world. From the moment we find out we’ve been blessed with a child, our primary responsibilities are to love our little one(s) and keep them safe. So don’t just take the word of this random blogger you’ve never met. Do yourself and your unborn child a favor and talk with your doctor before you lace up those kicks. Ok. Onto the post…

My OBGYN is a runner, mostly halfs and triathlons when I first met him, but then after I told him about running the Detroit Free Press Marathon at my yearly checkup, the inner competitor kicked in a bit. “It’s been a long time since I had a patient out run me.” I believe were his exact words. So it didn’t really come as a shock to me that the next time I saw him he had not only run the Detroit Marathon himself, but also qualified for Boston. (Big One Upper.)

Although he would actually prefer that I swim while pregnant (secretly I think this is his way of pushing me into tris), he’s still been a pretty big fan of me running with a few slight modifications. Slow down. Pay attention to your body. Don’t get out of breath. Don’t run so many miles. Keep your heart rate in check.  That kind of stuff.

Regardless though, my attempts to run while pregnant with both the Little Miss & the Tiger pretty much fell flat. With the Little Miss I ran about 3 months or so into my pregnancy, then had a major bout of bleeding (after lifting and moving a bunch of tables at work b/c yes, yes I am an idiot. Duh!) that sent me to the ER and put me on modified bed rest (read: lay out and tan at the pool) for a few days. Long story short, the Little Miss was fine. The cause of said bleeding was never discovered. I was cleared to run again, but afraid to do so. So, I didn’t. I walked some. I ate A LOT. I gained 60+ pounds with that pregnancy.

Then came the Tiger. Again, I had plans to run through the pregnancy. Again, I had some bleeding although not nearly as severe and scary as with the Little Miss. This time the root cause was easily identified. I had a polyp which is basically no big deal, kind of like a skin tag but where the sun don’t shine (is this way TMI?). My marathoning doc said I could keep running, but I was exhausted from chasing around the Little Miss and the bleeding every once in awhile freaked me out, little though it may be. By 4 months, I threw in the towel and  settled on walking….sometimes.

This time, it was entirely different. I was soooooooo wickedly tired at the beginning of my pregnancy and constantly sick. Although, I blame the sickness much less on my baking baby and more on her sisters who seemed to catch every virus known to man this past winter. With my immune system slightly weakend, I just didn’t have much defense against all the creeping crud they kept coming home with. I ran for the first month. Then I quit. Entirely. No walking. Nothing, for the next 3 or so months. I was mostly just trying to survive. I promise you, I’ve never been so tired in my entire life.

But the zombielike state eventually faded in the second trimester and so too did the bugs that seemed to keep attacking my family.  I was desperate to move again and stretch those legs. So at 4 1/2 pushing 5 months pregnant, I strapped on the heart rate monitor, laced up the shoes and went for a run. Carefully. I’m now 35 weeks pregnant and I’ve been running ever since, albeit slower and the walking intervals that I toss in there to keep my heart rate down have gotten much longer. But I am running nonetheless!

And now that I’ve run so far into my pregnancy, I’ve learned a thing or too about a thing or too. There are some major pluses to running so full of child and some…not so much. So here’s my list of the best AND the worst of running while pregnant  (RWP) for your amusement:

THE BEST: I have a tiny little running partner. She doesn’t talk much, but she never complains. Sometimes I can feel her moving around while I’m running and I know it’s silly but I like to imagine she’s running in there too. “Alright ma, let’s go! Bring it on!” One day, if she becomes a runner, I’ll tell her we ran together before she could even walk…or see where she was going for that matter.

THE WORST: I also run with an enemy…my heart rate monitor. I do believe we’ve covered this before here . So I’ll spare you all the details again. While I understand it’s purpose and necessity, I DESPISE having my runs dictated to me. We are also frequently in disagreement with respect to the amount of effort I’m putting in, my heart rate monitor and I that is. The heart rate monitor wins every time and I slow down to a walk. I hate that. Big bossy bully.

THE BEST: Running cures both my insomnia and restless legs. Plus an extra bonus: more energy. Weird things happen to me during pregnancy. For no apparent reason, I can’t sleep for entire nights even though I’m fully exhausted. Then I get this “if I don’t move my legs I might scream at the top of my lungs in a fit of rage” feeling, which I’m sure my husband would just love me to do at around 2:00 in the morning. It’s hard to describe but it’s mostly in my knees and ankles. It also happens if I sit for a long period of time, like in a car or something. But running is like a little magic pill. On the days I run, I fall asleep and my legs seem to do the same. PLUS, I can make it through that it’s 3ishPM and I can barely keep my eyes open portion of the day. You know what I’m talking about. It’s usually right about the time your kids are super wound up from being home from school and you need to start making dinner. That time of the day.

THE WORST: Three words: Maternity Running Clothes. UGH! This is so not fair. Did you realize there actually are cute maternity running clothes? But they are ridiculously expensive (IMO). It frustrates me to no end particularly because I think for most pregnant running mamas, they run under the banner of “I will only run as long as it’s safe for the baby and I to do so,” and really, we have no idea how long that’ll be. MAX we’re talking 10 months (and come one, you don’t REALLY need maternity running clothes the first few, so really we’re talking even less). Who wants to pay $50 or $60 for a running skirt that you’re only going to wear for a few months? Not me. No thank-you. No matter how delightfully snug it may be around my baby belly.

So what do I run in then? I know that’s your burning question. Fortunately, I can actually still fit in one of my, ahem, more robust running skirts (albeit slightly shorter now to make up for the extra junk in my trunk since that seems to be where I gain most of my baby weight. Yes, I know that makes no sense since I am not actually carrying my baby in my a$$, but the weight still seems to congregrate in that general area like grade school girls at a Justin Beiber concert or something.)

And on top? Well, I’ve finally outgrown my last tech shirt (that I unknowingly ordered in a man’s size back when I got it), so I’m down to two options. I steal my husband’s running shirts OR I just wear a sports bra and go belly commando, which I actually think is more fun…and also funny. In fact, it’s funny enough that my husband decided to whip out a video camera and immortalize it on film last week. If I had any guts I’d post it. But for now, it’s safely locked away and secure…for my husband to blackmail me with at an undisclosed future date I’m sure.

THE BEST: Less baby weight. I realize I’ve still got a few weeks to go, but right now I’m still under my baby weight gain that I had with my other daughters. One word: Booyah!

THE WORST: Maintaining a pace and skipping the race. So frustrating. Period. When I run now, my pace is (because I know you’re all dying to know) about 15 minutes per mile. And while, this feels like a pretty good clip while carrying a bouncing baby girl, I used to walk at that pace on my treadmill. And sometimes, I can’t even maintain that pace for more than a minute or two without my heart rate skyrocketing. Because of this and since I am by nature a highly competitive person, I’ve steered clear of participating in any races. I don’t want to get sucked into running faster than I should be. But I HAVE gone to cheer all my family and friends on at their races. **SIGH** I miss it.

THE BEST: I can see clearly now the rain is gone…or something like that. Since I’ve had kiddos, running has become a way for me to clear my head. It’s one of the very few times that I am surrounded by silence and can actually think uninterrupted by shouts of “Mommy!”. When I’m not running, such as those early months of this pregnancy, I’m frustrated and just ready to snap. I walk around with a furrowed brow and a heavy weight on my shoulders. The longer I don’t run, the more it builds and builds until some poor unsuspecting soul, which generally tends to be my husband (poor guy) bears the brunt of my frustration. On the other hand, today, a day I ran, I’m calm, relaxed and much more able to patiently handle whatever the day (or my kids) throw at me.

THE ABSOLUTE WORST: PEEING Even when I’m not pregnant, I frequently have to pee during a run. Even when I’m not running, I frequently have to pee while pregnant. So it really should be no shocker then that when I am RWP I frequently have to pee. But it really is SO very absurd because the minute I start to run on the treadmill, it’s like that bathroom trip I made just before I started was all in my imagination. I basically spend the whole run these days, holding it. And let me tell you something, holding it when you’re pregnant and running and thus your baby is bouncing on your bladder is not always a good thing. And we’re not talking dribble dribble if you catch my drift. So gross.

THE ABSOLUTE BEST (I HOPE): Get back to running sooner. I don’t actually know this for certain since I’ve never run this far into a pregnancy myself before, but from what I hear the longer you’re able to maintain running while pregnant the easier it is to return to running post partum. Makes sense. So maybe there’ll be a turkey trot for me in the very near future after all? Ahhh…just thinking of that makes me smile :-)

And there you have it. The best and the worst, in my humble opinion, of RWP. If you have in the past or are currently RWP and you think I’ve missed one of the best or worst aspects of doing so, be sure to let us know in the comments. It is, after all, highly likely I forgot something. I’ve had “swiss cheese head” as one of my runners likes to call it a TON lately.

 

'Til next time...

 

P.S. Baby watch update: at my doctor’s visit last week, I was measuring good, baby gal’s heartbeat was good, and she was head down in launch position. However, she still hasn’t moved down to the launching pad which is locked up pretty tight at this point. But any day now…I just know it ;-) I’ll be sure to let you all know what the doc says next week.

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