27 Sep

Pregnant Pause?

Pregnant woman's tummy

There is a common misconception that pregnant women should rest up and avoid any exertion, including running. It's an understandable assumption. Why should any woman who might be suffering from morning sickness, increased fatigue and an ever expanding belly subject themselves to the rigours of running?

Well, because cardiovascular exercise is good for health - just like it is for all those non-pregnant people. After all, pregnancy is not a disease - it is a perfectly normal physiological state. Of course, pregnancy may not exactly herald the best time to suddenly begin a regular running regime.

But for those in a healthy state of pregnancy for whom running is part of their lifestyle, there is no need to stop that routine altogether, provided they consult with a GP first. Indeed in the tricky first trimester, some experts believe that maintaining regular exercise can actually help offset some of the unpleasant symptoms above.

There are extreme examples of women running whilst pregnant, notably American Amber Miller who began the 2011 Chicago marathon despite being 39 weeks pregnant. Towards the end of the race, she began to feel contractions, but still battled on to the finish, crossing the line in 6 hours 25 minutes. Later that day she gave birth to a healthy 7lb 13oz baby daughter. Incredibly it was her third marathon whilst pregnant. Earlier in the year, she completed the Wisconsin marathon whilst four months pregnant, having completed another marathon years earlier when at a similar stage of pregnancy.

Of course there are also elite athletes for whom running is more than just a leisure time pursuit. British icons Paula Radcliffe and Liz McColgan both successfully maintained a training programme deep into pregnancy. McColgan famously continued to run right up until giving birth to her first daughter and 2012 Olympian Eilish in 1990. Eight weeks after the birth, the hardy Scot won a bronze medal at the World Cross Country Championships.

Of course, not everyone can expected to be a superhuman-supermum. But for those who wish to maintain their relationship with running, then there are several benefits. Firstly, labour could be more straightforward as a fitter, stronger body will be better equipped to handle it. They will also gain less excess weight and possibly have a more positive feel-good factor about their changing body.

They should always consult medical experts, particularly if they notice they are breathing heavier or their heart beats excessively fast during exercise. Otherwise, impending childbirth doesn't necessarily mean a pregnant pause.