Running Postpartum: Everything You Need to Know

If you are a runner who either recently gave birth or are about to have a baby you are probably wondering all about running postpartum. There are so many questions around running after pregnancy such as when you can run, how to ease your way back and what kind of workouts you can do after a section.

Running While Pregnant

The first thing to ask is if you ran while pregnant. If you did, you are probably in a little bit better shape to jump back into it than if you had not. Many women aren’t aware that most physicians actually advise you to get at least 20-30 minutes of exercise each day while pregnant.

While we certainly would not suggest you start running while pregnant, if you have always been a runner you probably can continue running relatively far into your pregnancy.

The first thing to note is that you should be upfront with your physician that you are running through pregnancy. Your doctor will probably caution you not to get your heart rate above a certain rate. In addition, you need to be careful not to overheat.

running while pregnant

You may find you feel hotter faster while pregnant. Just be smart and safe. If you feel too hot, slow down or walk. If you feel like your heart is beating too fast again, slow down or walk.

If you run through your first and second trimesters you may find yourself wondering when you need to stop. Most women need to stop running in the third trimester. However, there are women who can continue to run longer than others.

Our big word of caution is to discuss your exercise regiment with your physician to be sure it is safe for both you and baby.

How Soon After Giving Birth Can You Run?

The first important thing is not to jump into anything too quickly. Most experts agree that 6 to 8 weeks is a good rule of thumb when wondering when to return to a postpartum fitness regiment.

However, there are certainly exceptions out there. If you have a fairly normal vaginal delivery, you can usually start brisk walking a couple of weeks after giving birth. If you can walk a couple of miles a few days a week and that feels comfortable, you may be ready to try some jogging.

Can I Start Running Two Weeks Postpartum?

The easy answer is “maybe.” The more complicated answer is, “you need to ask yourself how easy or difficult your delivery was.”

Before considering a return to running after baby you should do a few things. Have you walked briskly? Have you done some form of light calisthenics? If you cannot say yes to these things, you probably should not consider trying to run a couple of weeks after giving birth.

postnatal running

When contemplating running postpartum it is all about patience. The old adage, “you need to walk before you can run” is especially true when looking at running after pregnancy.

Will I Know If It’s Too Soon To Work Out?

You should know if it is too soon for you to be running or doing some other type of workout. If you hurt when you run, it may be too soon. Signs it may be too soon:

  • If you accidentally urinate when you exert yourself.
  • Pain while exercising.
  • Pain at the pubic bone.
  • Feeling like your insides are going to fall out.
  • Repeated side stitches even if you walk or rest.

None of these things are normal and if you experience them, you are trying to do too much too soon.

Can Running Postpartum Cause Prolapse?

What is prolapse? Uterine prolapse is when your pelvic floor muscles stretch and weaken and are no longer able to support your pelvic organs. Returning to exercise too quickly after giving birth can lead to this problem.

Although running after pregnancy can be tempting, especially if you are dying to get back at it, you need to be smart. Jumping into it too soon can cause your organs to prolapse and lead to many problems, including a weakened bladder.

For this and other reasons, it is helpful to do walking and some light core work prior to hitting up the pavement to run again.

A good rule of thumb, if concerned about prolapse, is only to do low impact exercises for the 3-8 weeks postpartum.

When Can I Run After A C-section?

If you are thinking about running after a c-section, you are most likely looking at closer to 12 weeks postpartum. There are some types of working out after a c-section that you can do a little quicker than running, however, and they can help you ease into things.

running after giving birth

Since it is abdominal surgery, wait a minimum 6 weeks before even considering exercise post-cesarean. Then, ease into exercise with zero or low impact exercise. Swimming, cycling or the elliptical are all good choices.

When contemplating your pelvic health, most physicians agree that 12 weeks is the first point when most women can consider a high impact exercise such as running.

Running After Giving Birth

Backing things up, if you are asking yourself if there are a cut and dry answer to the question, “when can I run after giving birth?”. The answer is not one size fits all.

First, you need to take into consideration your level of fitness pre-pregnancy and during your pregnancy. Second, you should think about what kind of delivery you had. If your labor and delivery were both normal and a vaginal delivery, you can look at returning to exercise quicker.

If you had a high-risk pregnancy and/or a cesarean delivery, you will likely need more recovery time than some other women.

Lastly, ask yourself how you are feeling after being home for a couple of weeks. If you are generally exhausted and sore most of the time, exercise might be a poor choice.

Although giving birth is a beautiful and natural thing, it is also hard on your body. You need to respect the process and give yourself grace as you transition back into your fitness regiment. Remember: you have the rest of your life to get back into shape. Those early weeks with your little one? You can never get those back.

Returning To Sport or Exercise After Giving Birth
Exercise After C-Section

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