Resources for Pregnant Runners Part 1
It has occurred to me that, although there is a ton of research over the past 20 years showing that moderate to high intensity, “smart” weight bearing exercise typcially leads to a better pregnancy, healthier baby, and quicker recovery than putting your feet up for 9 months, it appears there is still a stigma. Here are a few of the most relevant websites that I have found with regards to running/exercising while pregnant. I will add to them as I find more!
The offical American College of Obstetrician and Gynecologists committee opinion on exercising during pregnancy and post-partum is a good place to start.
Until the 90’s, women were told less than 15 minutes was enough. They were told (and some still are, today!) to only allow themselves a maximum heart rate of 140 – but this can actually lead to underworking in the first trimester, and overworking in the third (I started learning about this through NYC Running Mama‘s Blog). Your blood vessels dilate in the first trimester to accommodate an eventual blood volume increase – which means your heart has to pump faster and harder, and that’s ok (also why women are more prone to dizziness in early pregnancy). And later, when there is a much higher blood volume in the dilated vessels, it requires much more effort to get the heart rate up. As a result, heart rate is not an accurate way to gauge intensity – recommended is the BORG Scale.
However, there may be an upper limit in your first trimester. From Human Kinetics’ website, taken from the book Running For Women by Jason Karp and Carolyn Smith: “Women engaging in more than four and a half hours per week of physical exercise in the first trimester showed a significantly greater increase in the risk of developing severe preeclampsia than women participating in less physical activity.” Perhaps a good enough excuse to let yourself crash on the couch when nausea gets you down!
I admire the women who pioneered maintaining their high-intensity workouts during pregnancy, and set the examples. Uber Mother Runner has a great piece on the history of the pregnant marathon. It’s not easy to hear people tell you you’re being selfish when you in your heart (and in the preliminary research) you know are doing what is best for your baby too. Sea Legs Girl of Uber Mother Runner is one of those mammas. The link I have provided from her blog looks at running and pregnancy, but expanding to exercise and pregnancy probably would have revealed many more studies.
More to come, I’m not done with this!!