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Should I Really Run While Pregnant? - The Mental Battlefield Pt. 2



I've gotten some wild comments while running with a bun in the oven.


"She ran a mile in five minutes, but can she spell stupid in five minutes?"


"Is this really worth risking your baby's life and your life for 100 bucks??"


"That's how you get a uterus prolapse when you're 40."


The first was a man, the second was a woman, the third was a man who clearly knew everything about women.


You've likely been influenced (whether you know it or not) by the careless or ignorant comments of people around you.


Let's try to balance those out with some data on the other side.



Should I really Run while pregnant? 4 Questions to Consider


If you've ever considered having a baby, and are into some type of sport like running, you've likely wondered about one or more of the following questions.


While guile and falsity spew quickly from anyone with login credentials these days, I hope to answer these questions as an authentic and humble participant of both motherhood and sport, while also offering reputable sources as authoritative answers.

  • Am I safe?

  • Is baby safe?

  • Is it even worth it, or will I have to start back at zero no matter what?

  • People tell me to just take it easy. Is my desire to train hard just a sign of my vanity?

As always, if you disagree with something I say here, and have a logical reason for me to change it, I always welcome feedback.



Am I Safe?


If you're curious about where this is going, let's just establish this: exercise is good for the body. The male body, the female body, the mouse body, the pregnant body.


Straight from the CDC's website:


Straight from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website:

Dr. Stacy Sims, in her book ROAR, adds the following benefits

  • Prevents excessive weight gain (especially in already overweight moms)

  • Boosts mood

  • Improves posture

  • Improves muscular strength

  • Improves balance

  • Improves endurance

  • Prepares the body for the hard work of labor

  • Helps you sleep better during and after pregnancy

  • Builds a powerful endocrine system

Women who should NOT exercise during pregnancy

  • Certain types of heart and lung diseases

  • Cerclage

  • Being pregnant with twins or triplets (or more) with risk factors for preterm labor

  • Placenta previa after 26 weeks of pregnancy

  • Preterm labor during this pregnancy or ruptured membranes (your water has broken)

  • Preeclampsia or pregnancy-induced high blood pressure

  • Severe anemia

Okay, all that is for some loose term called "exercise."


What about pregnant runners? What are the results of running vigorously during pregnancy?


A study of female runners who kept running at a high level during their pregnancy improved their V02 max (a baseline aerobic indicator) by 8-10% more than their teammates who never got pregnant.


So it's safe for you. In fact, it seems as though it's probably more unsafe NOT to exercise (including running) during pregnancy.


But what about baby?



Is baby safe?


You're a full-grown adult woman. You've got an immune system that works, a heart and lungs that are good and strong, and you can even feed yourself.


Can we really assume the tiny, helpless baby inside will tolerate high-intensity workouts, sometimes-low-oxygen situations, and raised body temperatures?


Sure can. Let's just get some quick hits off the table:

  • running will not cause a miscarriage, (but might actually help prevent one in some cases)

  • shaking the baby is not a concern

  • cooking the baby is not a concern either

    • pregnant women are particularly good at body temp regulation, and their temps don't raise as much as their non-pregnant peers



What ARE the risks?

There are of course some risks to baby when exerting yourself during pregnancy, namely...

  • Hypoxemia - inadequate oxygen

  • Hypoglycemia - low blood sugar

  • Hyperthermia - excess body heat

These are big, scary words, but what's really happening?


Hypoxemia. According to Dr. Stacy Sims, inside the placenta, your baby actually has very little need of oxygen, and the placenta is a superhero of oxygen collection - better, even, than your body.


Basically, you’d be hard pressed to maintain the effort you’d need to lower the oxygen to dangerous levels in the fittest state of your career, not pregnant. Good luck trying to do that between naps, after you threw up this morning, and while feeling nauseous and a few 20 pounds heavier. It's actually very hard to become anaerobic while pregnant. As for oxygen getting to the baby, women who exercise during pregnancy have better blood-flow to the placenta when they’re not exercising than pregnant women who don’t.


Hypoglycemia. The same logic is true with blood sugar. Your body prioritizes baby over you, and as hard as it is to run out of glucose (#bonk) while pregnant, your body will have already shuttled enough glucose to your baby to ensure he's okay. If you do somehow push long and hard enough to burn through all your glucose, just eat something, and maybe take the rest of the day off.


Hyperthermia. This is the most legitimate concern. Overheating can cause damage to the fetus. That said, the only thing you may need to change is your workout time: middle of the day/afternoon to cooler parts of the day like morning or evening. That’s really it. Your body typically won’t let you work hard enough to do damage. She's pretty amazing that way.


Dr. Stacy Sims on the benefits of exercise to your baby

  • Stimulated placenta growth and function

  • Stimulated organ and system growth and function

  • Healthy endocrine system

  • Better lung capacity & less tendency toward asthma by age 10

  • Keeps blood vessels healthy and supple

    • more resistant to cardiovascular disease

  • Improves metabolism

    • Your baby is born with a lower risk of childhood obesity-related diabetes

    • More likely to be leaner at 5 years old than children of sedentary pregnancies

  • More likely to have a healthy birth weight


TLDR: Is baby safe? Yeah.



Is it even worth it, or will I have to start back at zero no matter what?



I'll keep this section short and sweet.


There is no guarantee you will be able to return to your standard of running after pregnancy.


But.


If you follow all the advice I have written here, you'll give yourself a pretty solid shot.


God speed.



Is my desire to train hard During pregnancy just a sign of my vanity or ego?


This is one that you may not need to read, but some part of my soul, deep down, certainly questioned it during my first pregnancy, and sometimes even now.


Why can't I just take it easy for a few months? Am I really that concerned about running fast or good calves to be willing to run six days a week during one of the most body-altering and uncomfortable periods of my life? After all, NOBODY expects anything of me during these nine months.


On the surface it does seem that running while pregnant is just an ego soother. I get raised eyebrows and 'go mama!'s from passersby, and at little races I do. My dopamine center spikes a little bit when that happens. And don't get me started on this blog and the wonderful feedback I've gotten from all of you readers.


I really questioned this.


Then my husband asked - gun to my head - would I keep running even in isolation?


I thought about the time I woke up and ran 31 miles before class started just to see where my exhaustion point was. I told no one. I only tell you now to make a point.


I thought about the single GPS watch my high school coach sent our team out with, and how I was one of a few who actually ran all the mileage.


I thought about the hundreds of lonely long runs I've done in the off season with no real expectation of improved fitness, just love of the burn followed by deep satisfaction.


Now I think about my daughter who puts on her pink flamingo watch, and tells me she'll be back in 20 minutes.


Vanity might taste sweet, but it's just the icing.


Absolutely I'd run. You would, too.

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3 Kommentare


Ok so now I need to know when the 31 miles run was? it sounded like BYU days with saying you went to class? Yeah I do love running but i guess this made me realize my love does not run this deep. but it makes me happy you get to do something you love that much! So interesting to think about how God can plant some desires that when you think about it can be seem like nonsense-like if I word it that I really like running in circles it sounds kind of funny! Love you Kenna!

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justintylerlevine2
justintylerlevine2
26. Jan. 2023

Very informative! Great info to know, whether a man or women!

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Jennica Redd
Jennica Redd
26. Jan. 2023

Love this! Wow, am I teary? Yes.. maybe. :')

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