How to Get Back Running After Your Pregnancy

Many new moms want to establish a regular running habit to lose baby weight, gain more energy, and get some much-needed alone time for themselves. If you recently had a baby (congratulations!) and feel like you're ready to start running post-partum, here are some tips to stay safe, comfortable, and motivated.


Get a Support System in Place

mom with stroller
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Establishing a regular running habit as a new mom is not an easy task, but admitting that you need help will be a key to your success.

Whether you get family members or outside help, it's important that you make a plan for who will help you with childcare while you're running.

Be creative when thinking about possible childcare options. For example, you could watch a friend's child while she runs, and then go out for a run while she cares for your little one. Or, run together with your jogging strollers so you can keep each other motivated.


Talk to Your Doctor About When to Start

Before you jump right back into running, make sure you consult your OB/GYN about when it's safe to run again. He or she may recommend waiting anywhere from two to six weeks post-partum, depending on your delivery, recovery, and activity level during pregnancy.


Accommodate Physical Changes

Your pelvic floor muscles might be weaker after delivery and may need some time to strengthen. Occasional urine leakage may occur when exercise, such as running, resumes. Always urinate immediately prior to your run to insure that the bladder is empty.

Residual lochia (vaginal discharge) can also occur if you start a workout soon after giving birth. Reusable panties with an absorbent crotch (such as THINX) might be helpful for your first runs. You might also consider wearing supportive running shorts or tights for extra compression. Any residual varicose veins in the legs or vulva will be supported and less sensitive.

Lastly, pump or nurse prior to a run. A compression sports bra is a must with nursing pads if you are still lactating. Coat the nipples with moisturizer or anti-chaffing lube for sensitive nipples.


Don't Expect Immediate Results

Even if you exercised during your pregnancy, you're still not at the same fitness level that you were before you got pregnant and you're not going to get back to that place overnight.

Your body is not the same as it was before you got pregnant, and you're dealing with some new challenges such as lack of sleep and possibly breastfeeding. The first few weeks — or even months — may be extremely difficult, both physically and mentally.

But consistency is key — keep at it and try to be patient! After the first 4-6 weeks, the running will get easier and feel more "normal", and you'll start seeing more and more results.


Practice Good Nutrition and Hydration

Proper nutrition and hydration are important for all runners, but especially for breastfeeding moms. If you're breastfeeding, you need about 500 extra calories a day. Try to spread your calories throughout the day, eating five to six small meals, rather than three big ones.


Follow a Schedule

Using a training schedule is a great way to make sure you maintain your motivation and use a gradual approach to avoid injury and burnout. Even if you were already running before pregnancy, if you've taken a long break, you should start with a beginner schedule and ease back into it.


Invest in a Jogging Stroller

Is childcare an issue? A jogging stroller allows you to go for a run without having to worry about it. It will also get you out in nature, which is great for your mental health. When my kids were really little, I tried to time runs with their naps, so they could snooze while I ran.


Find a Gym With Childcare

Many gyms offer childcare as a benefit of membership or for a small fee (much less than you would pay for a babysitter). The kids' room at my gym always has at least one or two kids there, so my kids can have a supervised playdate while I get in a run.


Remember the Benefits of Running

As a busy mom, you'll feel pulled in many directions and may start to feel a little "mommy guilt" about taking time to exercise.

But it’s important to remember that you're not only exercising for you and your health, but also for your family.

I always find that I'm a better mom — more energetic, more patient, less stressed — when I make time for running in my life. My husband realizes this as well, so he really makes an effort to support me and my running habit. As my kids get older, I want to be a role model for them as they learn about the importance of exercise and a healthy lifestyle.

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