Pregnancy and childbirth are truly miraculous, but there's no denying that the process of bringing life into the world can wreak havoc on your body. Not only will you have to give up on high-impact exercise like running at some point during your pregnancy, but returning to your favorite physical activity post-baby will take some time.
You may not know when or how to get back in the groove with your running routine, especially with your body in recovery and a newborn to attend to. That said, you're not the first mother to struggle with these questions, and there is plenty of information out there to help you determine how best to get back into your running routine. Here are a few things you should know when you want to return to running after having a child.
Before you get gung-ho and hit the trail, it's best to speak with your doctor. Traditionally, it is recommended that new mothers wait at least six weeks before returning to intense and/or high-impact exercise regimens (or longer for C-section deliveries).
However, every woman's body is different. The six-week benchmark is more of a guideline than a strict rule, and some doctors now caution that women may benefit from waiting up to six months before returning to high-impact and high-intensity workouts, due to the fatigue and stresses related to pregnancy, childbirth, and caring for an infant.
Only you can decide what type of routine will work best for your body and your lifestyle, but you should know that there is no strict rule. Speaking with your doctor can help you to determine when you're ready to return to running.
You've probably been out of the game for several weeks or months by the time you return to jogging, and you shouldn't expect to be able to pick up exactly where you left off. Your body has gone through a lot in the meantime and you need sufficient recovery to ensure that you are strong and capable of caring for yourself and your infant.
You should therefor return to running slowly and work your way back up to your previous level of exercise over time. Start with low-impact exercise and incrementally increase your efforts to more intense activity.
Ultimately, you know your body better than anyone else. While your doctor can offer you information and advice, you're the one who will decide when you feel ready to return to running. It's best to allow time for your body to readjust after childbirth, though.
When you carry a baby, your belly not only expands, but it pushes aside your pelvis, ribs, and internal organs, and it takes time for your body to bounce back. Even when you feel ready, you may have to concede that your body needs time to recover.
If you go too fast, you risk injury, so ease back into your exercise regimen and make sure you're getting plenty of rest and proper nutrition along the way. Be aware of the difference between challenging yourself and pushing too hard, and err on the side of caution.
When you feel like you're ready to start working out again, it's a good idea to put together a schedule that includes time for exercise. You'll have to work around the newness of caring for your baby, especially if you're breastfeeding, but scheduling in exercise can help you to increase energy, shed baby weight, and feel like you're taking control of your life and doing something just for you.
It can be hard for new moms to leave an infant for any amount of time, not only because of emotional attachment and anxiety, but also for purely logistic reasons if you're the primary caregiver. The good news is that you can find jogging strollers that allow you to take your baby with you while you get your daily exercise.
New moms can sometimes feel like strangers in their own lives. Even though you have a new baby and new challenges to focus on, you're still you, and you want to feel comfortable and confident in your life.
Running gives you the opportunity to reconnect with family and friends that you exercised with before you got pregnant. Getting back to familiar activities and socializing can help you to adjust to having a baby in your life and let you get back to feeling like you.