Saturday, July 09, 2011

Running and Pregnancy

I started running in January of 2010, and ran my first 5k race in May of that year. I loved running almost immediately; after years of sedentary living and being overweight, it was a true joy to find something that was good for me and made me so happy. After about 3 months of running, I was able to go off the meds that I'd been on since having my first baby in 2003.

Last year, I ran a lot of races including my first half marathon. I put a lot of effort into losing weight so that I could be a better runner, and lost 40 pounds. For 2011, I had big plans: run most of the races I ran in 2010 to improve my times, run more miles per week, lose even more weight, weight train for better overall fitness, run a sub-30 5k. I could go on. These plans were entirely derailed when I discovered in February that I was unexpectedly pregnant.

The pregnancy is good news for us. Rob wanted another baby but wasn't willing to push for one (I think he's afraid of getting blamed for all the sleeplessness and laundry). I felt I was done, but as my boys (5 & 8) got older, I was missing the baby days. Once I found out I was pregnant, I realized how much I really did want another little one around here.

It's been great so far. I've been able to run all along, even now at 26 weeks pregnant, and I feel great. I feel better than I have with my other 2 pregnancies. I have limited my weight gain to a very healthy level - just 15 pounds so far, with 14 weeks to go. I have more energy, strength, and stamina than with my other pregnancies. I am not wallowing in my condition, laying around like a frail patient. I'm gardening, playing with my kids, swimming at the lake, lifting weights, and running.

I did a lot of research. I know that running is not just safe for pregnancy, it's good for pregnancy. It's good for mom and baby. Labor and delivery is easier; postpartum recovery is easier; baby's adjustment to the outside world is easier; pregnancy itself has fewer complications and is easier. You know what's not good for a pregnant women with a normal pregnancy? Laying around and eating all day. Gaining 60+ pounds. That's what I did with my first pregnancy, and I ended up on bedrest, with pre-eclampsia, getting induced at 37 weeks and nearly having a c-section. I had an 18-hour labor with 3 hours of pushing because I was too weak to push my own baby out. I was sore for weeks after that strenuous workout. Not something I want to revisit.

This time around, I am healthier and fitter than I've ever been in my life. Being pregnant at age 42 is not an excuse to stop taking care of yourself; it's a reason to take the best care of yourself that you can.

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