Preparing for Your First Postpartum Run
Most runners are mentally ready to hit the pavement sooner than most obstetricians and midwives would like! While postpartum running is beneficial in so many ways, it will do more harm than good if you get back into it too soon.
Remember that you went through some serious physical changes in pregnancy. One physical change of pregnancy that greatly impacts runners is looseness of the joints. A hormone called relaxin made your joints loose during pregnancy. This joint laxity impacts tendons, ligaments, muscles and bone. Get back out there when you’re ready – but go slow.
Here are some tips for making your first postpartum run comfortable and safe:
1. Your perineum
- Most women who experience vaginal birth report perineal pain for up to two weeks. By two months postpartum, pain has resolved for 88 percent of women.
- If you still have pain while running, your wound may not be healed and you could cause infection by irritating it. If you are still experiencing pain, see your doctor or midwife.
2. Your breasts
- It can take a while after your baby is born to figure out what your breasts are going to be like. If you’re breastfeeding, they may grow a whole size when engorged. Spend some time finding the right sports bra for you before you attempt your first run.
- Invest in some soft bamboo nursing pads to use on the run. The friction of your nipples on fabric can cause pain and bleeding.
3. Your bladder and pelvic floor
- Women who experienced vaginal birth are more likely to have incontinence after birth. Some women experience bladder leakage while running postpartum, but a routine of pelvic floor exercise can improve or totally alleviate symptoms.
- Postpartum women generally have more success working with a pelvic floor physical therapist, but if this isn’t feasible for financial or other reasons, an at home pelvic floor routine can still be beneficial.
- You can start postpartum pelvic floor exercises as soon as you can do them without feeling pain.
4. Your cesarean incision
- If you experienced cesarean birth, don’t run until the incision is fully healed with no redness.
- If there is friction between the incision and your clothing, you can invest on some special undergarments designed to protect cesarean incisions.
As a good rule of thumb, most bodies are ready for light exercise at six weeks postpartum, but get clearance from your doctor or midwife before you begin. If you are still experiencing bleeding, or if your bleeding had stopped but started again with running, you still need time to heal. Give it a few days and try again.
By Dr. Sarah Toler. Sarah Toler, CNM, DNP is a Certified Nurse Midwife and Doctor of Nursing Practice. As a midwife, Sarah knows it’s an honor to help women thrive throughout life’s greatest journeys. Sarah works with women throughout pregnancy and birth, but her real passion is the postpartum period.