Returning to running after a baby: Account of a gentle year of regaining fitness
About a year ago I was sat in a similar position on my sofa searching the internet about returning to running after having a baby.
During my research I read several helpful posts, but really enjoyed personal accounts of women who had returned to running after their baby. I loved reading individual stories that inspired me.
My writing here may not inspire but is a simple and genuine reflection on my year of gentle running after my second baby.
I’d been given advice by my GP at my 6 week check, and also a physiotherapist, that running (high impact exercise) is not usually recommended until 12 weeks after delivery. I also had some pelvic floor complications so was advised to take it really easy until 6 months.
By the time my little boy was 3 months old, I was keen to get my trainers back on. I’d not been able to exercise at all during my pregnancy due to severe morning sickness so knew I was going to have to take it really easy.
Running three months after delivery:
At 3 months post delivery (to the day) I set out on my first tentative post-baby run. I’d thoroughly ‘googled’ the topic and felt armed with the essential information. I knew the importance of correct support for breast-feeding and opted to wear not one, but two, super-supportive sports bras; I meticulously planned my run around sleep/feed times (my babies and my own); Ensured my bladder was empty right before set off.
After all this preparation I ran (or rather gently jogged) for a grand total of 5 minutes.
A very short and drama-free jog, but one during which I appreciated the precious minutes to myself, and was incredibly thankful that my core and pelvic muscles had recovered sufficiently to enable the start of a return to fitness.
Over the next three months, I ran maybe once or twice a week for a maximum of twenty minutes at a time and at no more than 70% effort. Like a lot of women I found my pelvic floor wasn’t as strong after my second baby. In these early months I spent a lot more time on pelvic floor and core exercises than running.
Running six months after delivery
At around 6 months old my little boy was breastfeeding frequently over night and although my pelvic floor and core were feeling stronger, I was tired. My running pattern remained a gentle jog once or twice a week.
Running nine months after delivery
I ran a couple of 5k park runs and finally felt confident enough to rejoin my running club.
Running one Year after delivery
It took a whole year to get close to my previous level of fitness and finally managed to run 5k in around 25 minutes.
Running fourteen months after delivery
I’d finished breastfeeding and inspired by some of my amazing friends, who had run half and full marathons after their babies, I singed up to a couple of 10k runs completing in times of 49.53 and 51.48.
I am looking forwards to a half marathon next month.
I am not a super-serious or particularly fast runner, but it is something that makes me feel happier, more confident and re-energised. If you’re thinking about running after pregnancy do chat to your GP at your 6 week postpartum check. Although time (and sleep) are often in short supply as a parent, it is possible to regain fitness, or even to think about physical fitness for the first time.
If you’d like some more inspiration have a little look at these two wonderful Mums, one of whom started running for the first time after her second baby and the other who regained fitness after a difficult twin pregnancy.
Exercise has many benefits for both physical and mental wellbeing. Of course it doesn’t have to be running, NHS choices has some excellent information about recommended amounts of cardiovascular and muscle strengthening exercise.
Other Articles about Running after Pregnancy:
- Runner’s World: A list of activities to start each week after delivery beginning with pelvic floor exercises, adding in some strength training and starting some gentle running after 8 weeks.
Although some people may be thinking about return to running after 8 weeks, the advice I received advice from my GP and physiotherapist that running is not usually recommended until 12 weeks after delivery.
- Women’s Running Competitor: Advocating core strength training prior to returning to running.
- NHS: Sensible advice from NHS choices about fitness and health as a new parent