Dispelling Postpartum Running Myths
With my first pregnancy, I was able to run quite a bit. Heck, even at 42 weeks I jogged a lap around the neighborhood to try to induce labor. (Spoiler: it didn’t work.) And, every time I did, I’d get looks, comments, and questions.
So many questions.
Is that safe? How does it feel? Are you sure that’s not bouncing the baby too much?
(All real questions I received.)
After I had Gwen, I started running once I had the okay from my OBGYN (always the most important thing!). And, again, the questions.
Is that too soon? Do you pee yourself? What about your milk supply?
And it’s for all of those reasons that I wish this book had existed then!
Go Ahead, Stop and Pee: Running During Pregnancy and Postpartum is a comprehensive look at the guidelines and benefits of running during every stage of pregnancy.
Dr. Kate Mihevc-Edwards and Dr. Blair Green — both physical therapists, mothers, and runners — use science and personal accounts to explain issues like pee breaks, postural changes, hormonal changes, and pelvic floor dysfunction. And, today, they’re letting us share an excerpt from their book on postpartum running myths. Such good info!
Dispelling Postpartum Running Myths
Excerpt from Go Ahead, Stop and Pee by Dr. Kate Mihevc-Edwards and Dr. Blair Green
Myth 1: If you run while breastfeeding, your milk will dry up.
Truth: Milk production is driven by a feed-forward mechanism involving stimulation of the breasts (by the nursing baby) and hormones. In other words, the more the nipples are stimulated by sucking, the more milk is produced.
Another driver is caloric intake. Calories must be available to provide energy for milk production. Running burns calories. Remember you will have to replenish your calories in order to maintain milk production.
Bottom line: nutrition matters. If milk production is low, hydrate and increase caloric intake as a first intervention.
Myth 2: After I have a baby, I will have to get used to peeing when I run.
Truth: Urinary leakage postpartum is common but not normal. Continued leaking that does not change or that increases in frequency or severity is a sign that something is wrong. Seek out a pelvic health PT for help. Don’t just tell yourself, “Oh well, this is what happens!”
Retraining the pelvic floor muscles while coordinating pelvic floor muscle contractions with breathing and movements — such as jumping — can help eliminate leaking with running.
Myth 3: Diastasis recti can only be fixed with surgery.
Truth: Diastasis recti is a common occurrence in pregnancy and often will resolve on its own after delivery. It is a problem of fascia stretching and the muscles being unable to control tension as force is applied, such as when lifting weights, doing abdominal exercises, or running and jumping.
Many women with diastasis recti improve with appropriate exercises targeting abdominal muscle function and coordination of the deep core muscles. Return to high-impact exercise is possible once these exercises are mastered and the tissue is able to respond to more challenging movements.
If you feel like you have a diastasis recti, seek out help from a pelvic health physical therapist who works with postpartum women.
THE TRUTHS YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- You had a baby! You are amazing!
- Practice diaphragmatic breathing.
- Once you are postpartum, you are always postpartum.
- During the first six to eight weeks postpartum, there will be a lot of bleeding. If bleeding increases or is excessive, you might be exerting yourself too much.
- Breastfeeding can be painful initially. There are several products that help soothe the pain.
- Place nursing pads in your sports bra in order to decrease the friction on the nipple and to prevent leakage if you produce a large amount of milk.
- You are at a higher risk for stress fractures while you are breastfeeding.
Thanks to Dr. Mihevc–Edwards and Dr. Green for the good info! —Jenn
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Great article! Even during pregnancy, women can pursue running if they have done it for a long time, and provided that there are no medical complications involved. But postpartum is a totally different game altogether. The body undergoes drastic changes. Women also need to make sure they stay adequately hydrated when they pursue any form of fitness regime.
Thanks for sharing this information on postpartum running. It is good to be able to separate the facts from the fiction.
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