There was a time when a pregnant woman was viewed as a fragile being, one who must avoid any and all exertion for the safety of her unborn baby as well as herself. Now doctors and experts agree that a healthy, normal pregnancy should include exercise because it will benefit both the mom-to-be and the growing little one. This is great news for runners, because it means you don’t have to give up pounding the pavement (or trail, or treadmill) just because you are pregnant.
That said, with pregnancy come a number of physical changes that can affect—or be affected by—your running. Here are some suggestions for items that are essential for running while pregnant.
A Supportive Sports Bra (or Two)
Thanks to all of the wonderful changes in hormones that accompany pregnancy, chances are pretty good that your chest is going to grow. For some of us, the growth is minimal. For others, it ends up being multiple cup sizes. And ladies, I don’t need to tell you how uncomfortable a bouncing chest can be while running. Invest in a high-quality sports bra that will prevent discomfort throughout your pregnancy and even during postpartum running. The Brooks Moving Comfort brand was by far the most highly recommended bra by the running moms and moms-to-be that I polled.
Sometimes during pregnancy it can feel as if your body is no longer your own. No, instead it is merely a vessel for that growing baby, and every single day something else on your body has seemingly grown, is swollen, or is uncomfortable. The last thing you want or need while running is a too-tight waistband around your growing belly or a tank top that no longer stays—or covers—where it should. A number of athletic and running companies now cater to pregnant women with maternity apparel. The gear is the exact same quality that you are used to but is designed to move with your changing body.
Not eager to spend a fortune on maternity clothes? That’s okay! Many running moms say they go to discount department stores to buy larger sizes in regular athletic gear and spend far less money than they would on maternity clothing.
Pregnancy requires a higher level of hydration because water is essential for the added blood volume and carrying nutrients from mom to baby. Combine that with the fact that running will cause dehydration, and you can see why it’s so important for mother runners to stay hydrated! Carry a handheld water bottle to ensure that you always have water on hand. Aren’t a fan of handhelds? Consider wearing a small hydration vest or pack.
The Right Shoes
Think your regular running shoes have what it takes to withstand pregnant miles? You might want to think again. Pregnancy releases a hormone called relaxin that causes joints and ligaments—mainly in your pelvis—to relax and separate. But your pelvis is not the only area affected. The relaxin actually causes the ligaments in your feet to relax, causing the bones to slightly separate. Add in the combination of potential weight gain or swelling and there is a real possibility that your feet will grow during pregnancy.
Further, the additional weight may cause you to require just a bit more support and cushion from your shoes. Don’t be surprised if your current sneakers aren’t cutting it, and you need to go up in size—or cushion—to accommodate your growing body.
For some women, the bouncing of their ever-growing belly may become uncomfortable. There are a number of maternity support belts on the market, some of which are designed specifically for active moms-to-be. The belts come in a variety of sizes and support levels and may be worth a try if you are experiencing discomfort from the weight of your stomach.
Pregnancy doesn’t necessarily mean a temporary end to your running habits. But as always, consult with your physician to discuss your health and whether running through your pregnancy is a safe option for you.