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Can You Run While Pregnant? 4 Helpful Tips To Run When Pregnant

Soon-to-be new moms who become pregnant with their first child often have a litany of questions.

Many of the questions deal with the experiences they will have as a new mom and how to take care of their newborn baby, what life will look like, what breastfeeding will be like, and so on. 

But, there are also a host of questions that can arise regarding the pregnancy itself.

It wasn’t that many years ago that it was quite rare to see a pregnant woman exercising in any capacity, let alone running, which is why many pregnant women ask, Can I run while pregnant?” 

In this article, we will answer the question, “Can you run while pregnant?” discuss when to stop running during pregnancy, and give tips for running while pregnant.

We will cover the following: 

  • Can You Run While Pregnant?
  • Can I Run During Pregnancy?
  • Is Running During Pregnancy Safe?
  • Benefits of Running During Pregnancy
  • Tips For Running During Pregnancy

Let’s jump in! 

A pregnant woman running.

Can You Run While Pregnant?

Questions like “Can you run while pregnant?” can feel like an absolute impossibility for some women, especially if you haven’t been running consistently prior to conceiving.

However, if you are an avid runner before becoming pregnant, the idea of running while pregnant can seem completely tenable as long as you have an idea of if it is safe to run during pregnancy, when to stop running during pregnancy, and tips for how to run while pregnant.

The good news is that running during pregnancy can be just as beneficial to maternal health as running is during any other period in your life. 

Furthermore, by running during your pregnancy, you may provide your developing baby with a host of health benefits. 

However, as with nearly all health recommendations, particularly those regarding pregnancy, running while pregnant is not a one-size-fits-all experience.

Some soon-to-be mother runners are unable to continue running during pregnancy or must pare back significantly due to discomfort or pregnancy complications, whereas other pregnant women feel healthy and comfortable running throughout most, if not all, of their pregnancy.

A pregnant woman running.

Overall, the general consensus from medical professionals in terms of running during pregnancy is that if you were running prior to conceiving, it’s safe to continue running while pregnant as long as you feel okay and don’t have complications that would otherwise preclude running during pregnancy from being safe. 

Running during pregnancy has not been shown to increase the risk of miscarriage, nor has exercising while pregnant, so from a medical standpoint, most women should be able to continue running after conceiving unless they are dealing with other complications or experience pain or discomfort running while pregnant.

On the other hand, if you are new to the sport, either beginning running for the first time or trying to get back into running after a long hiatus, it is not advisable to start running while pregnant. 

Instead of starting running while you are pregnant to get exercise, it’s best to speak with your OB-GYN or doctor about alternative forms of exercise that are low impact

Examples include swimming, walking or hiking, using an elliptical trainer, or indoor cycling. 

As with other stages of life, pregnant women should strive to meet the physical activity recommendations for adults set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the British Heart Foundation, which are to accumulate either 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity cardio exercise per week. 

Note that these guidelines pertain to exercise during pregnancy as long as you are healthy and the pregnancy is going smoothly.

A pregnant woman running.

Can I Run During Pregnancy?

Note that there is an important yet nuanced difference between the questions “Can you run during pregnancy” and “Can I run during pregnancy?”

Can you run while pregnant is a matter of addressing whether running during pregnancy is generally safe, whereas Can I run while pregnant is a matter of whether you personally can run while you are pregnant.

The answers to these two questions can be different.

Furthermore, even if you have run during certain pregnancies or have been unable to run while pregnant with children you already have, every woman and every pregnancy is different. 

What may work for some, and what may be comfortable or doable in terms of running while pregnant in certain circumstances, may not hold true for every pregnancy you have or every woman who wants to run while pregnant.

A pregnant woman running alongside another person.

Regardless of the general recommendations for running during pregnancy, it is important to remember that your own body is unique, and your needs and responses to running may differ from other women. 

Thus, keep in mind that even if you were running regularly before becoming pregnant, there are certain cases that can make running during pregnancy contraindicated.

Conditions that may make running while pregnant unsafe include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Preeclampsia
  • Placenta previa 
  • Cervical cerclage
  • Severe anemia
  • Bleeding
  • Certain types of heart and lung disease 
  • Round ligament issues

In addition to these specific conditions that are contraindications to running while pregnant, you should speak with your healthcare team before running during pregnancy if you are at an increased risk of preterm labor or are pregnant with multiple babies.

Lastly, if you are experiencing adverse symptoms during or after your runs while you are pregnant, such as headaches, dizziness, vaginal bleeding, calf swelling or pain, leaking of amniotic fluid, chest pain, or vomiting, you must stop running and speak to your OB before trying to run again.

A pregnant belly.

Is Running During Pregnancy Safe?

Running during pregnancy will present some unique challenges, even for women who “have it easy“ and are not largely affected by the growing fetus in terms of implications and impact on their fitness or training.

With that said, if you are pregnant and hoping to continue running, there are certain considerations to keep in mind and adjustments that should be made to your training to ensure safety for you and your baby.

One time that it is not safe to run when you are pregnant is when the heat index is over 100°F or so. Your body can overheat, which can cause neural tube defects in your developing baby.

You will need to take your workout indoors with air conditioning or take a day off.

Benefits of Running During Pregnancy

Along with the general physical and mental health benefits of running at any phase in the adult life cycle, there are additional benefits of running during pregnancy.

Note that the benefits of running while pregnant only apply when you are running a healthy amount without overtraining and running without pushing through discomfort or contraindications to continued training.

A pregnant woman with a race bib on.

Some of the benefits of running during pregnancy include the following:

#1: Fewer Complications

Women who run during pregnancy may be at a reduced risk of pregnancy-related complications such as preeclampsia, preterm birth, gestational diabetes, high birth weight, and the need for cesarean section delivery.

#2: Easier Labor and Delivery

Staying physically fit by running during your pregnancy can make delivery easier, and the early postpartum recovery can be quicker, allowing your body to bounce back easier.

#3: Less Weight Gain

A certain amount of maternal weight gain is required for a healthy pregnancy in order to support the growing fetus. 

However, excessive weight gain during pregnancy can increase the risk of gestational diabetes as well as complications for your own health and the health of your baby. 

Running during pregnancy can help reduce the risk of excessive weight gain and adverse sequela.

A pregnant woman stretching.

#4: Improved Mood

While there’s a lot of discussion about postpartum depression and anxiety, some women also suffer from depression during pregnancy. Research has found that running during pregnancy can reduce the risk of depression by 67 percent.

#5: Enhancing Fetal Brain Development 

Running while pregnant is good for your own body and mind, and evidence suggests that it may also boost fetal brain development.

Now, let’s look at some tips for running while pregnant:

Tips For Running During Pregnancy

#1: Hydrate Properly

It is especially important to remain well hydrated before, during, and after your runs when you are pregnant. Make sure to replace your electrolytes if you sweat a lot or live in a warm climate.

#2: Stay Near a Bathroom

Many women experience frequency and urgency to urinate when they are pregnant due to the pressure of the growing fetus on the bladder, so it can be helpful to choose a running route or use a treadmill in close proximity to a bathroom.

A pregnant woman stretching.

#3: Focus On Nutrition

It is critical to fuel your body before and as soon as possible after your runs. Focus on complex carbohydrates and protein within 20 to 30 minutes after finishing your run.

Consider working with a registered dietitian or sports nutritionist if you are struggling to gain enough weight during your pregnancy while running or if you need tips on supporting your training and your growing baby as you train.

#4: Adjust Your Expectations

If you and your healthcare team decide that running while pregnant is a safe and healthy option for you, try to enjoy this special season in your life as a runner.

Do not stress that you are not running your top times or participating in races left and right. Take this time to enjoy yourself!

If running is not the sport for you during this time in your life, check out our ideas for low-impact cardio that does not involve running here.

A swimmer in a pool.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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