It’s not uncommon to encounter naysayers who question your decision to continue running during pregnancy instead of opting for a sedentary lifestyle. In this article, I will address some of the most prevalent myths circulating among critics and provide a reality check to empower you to stand your ground.
Dispelling Myths About Running While Pregnant
Myth 1: If you weren’t running before you got pregnant, now isn’t the time to start.
Reality: Pregnancy is an opportune moment to embrace physical activity. Even if you’re new to running, the approach of run-walking is a safe and sensible starting point. Inactivity, not exercise, poses a real risk, contributing to excessive weight gain, high blood pressure, discomfort, and an increased likelihood of C-section and gestational diabetes.
Myth 2: Running increases the risk of early pregnancy loss, stillbirth, or neonatal death.
Reality: There’s no credible evidence linking exercise, including running, to a higher risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, or neonatal death. On the contrary, exercise supports placental growth and fetal development.
Myth 3: Resistance and strength training can lead to joint injury during pregnancy due to relaxin’s effect on ligaments.
Reality: The notion of relaxin-related risks remains largely theoretical. While there are limited scientific data suggesting increased injury risk, it’s essential to avoid strenuous powerlifting during pregnancy (rest assured, you won’t be lifting a bus).
Strength training, in moderation, prepares you for the demands of motherhood. A 12-week study involving pregnant women who were new to weight training showed a 36% strength improvement with no injuries and stable blood pressure. Proper breathing techniques can alleviate minor side effects.
Myth 4: Athletic individuals must significantly reduce exercise intensity to prevent overheating and oxygen deprivation to the baby.
Reality: Naturally, you’ll need to lower your exercise intensity during pregnancy. High-intensity workouts aren’t advisable, but with your doctor’s approval, maintaining your training routine is appropriate. Your body is accustomed to exercise-related stress, and sudden cessation may lead to weight gain, decreased fitness, and suboptimal fetal development.
Myth 5: Running is especially unsafe during pregnancy; it might dislodge the baby.
Reality: As long as you experience no joint pain or discomfort, running is generally safe during pregnancy. The baby is cushioned by amniotic fluid and cannot be dislodged. While round ligament pain can affect your pace and stride, listening to your body and adjusting your running pace is perfectly acceptable.
Myth 6: Avoid working your abs, as lying on your back can restrict oxygen to the placenta.
Reality: Maintaining core strength is crucial, and relying solely on Kegels isn’t sufficient. While traditional crunches are best avoided, core exercises such as side planks can help you maintain a strong core without compromising placental oxygen supply.