(pictured Kait Culy - LT Ambassador)
Running Through Pregnancy by Acadia Gaitz @TrialrunningBabyCatcher
Maybe you’ve been planning and waiting for this moment your whole life, or maybe it came as a complete surprise. No matter how pregnancy happens, it is bound to be a life changing experience.
I have never been pregnant myself, but I did spend years studying pregnancy and I get to have conversations with pregnant folks every day. I am a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) licensed in the state of Maine to provide prenatal, birth and postpartum care to low-risk pregnant folks, as well as limited well-body care to non-pregnant people.
I choose this path because I felt it was important to use my career to make a difference in the world, and empowering pregnant people and young families seemed like the perfect way to do it - start at the source!
While researching the effects of high intensity exercise on pregnancy for my senior research project during my last year of midwifery school, I was shocked by lack of information on safely continuing high levels of activity during pregnancy. Furthermore, the research that did exist did not match with the advice that many care providers are sharing with their clients.
The basis of midwifery care is shared decision making that is based in evidence. I often tell my clients that while I may be the “expert” ( I use this word lightly, there is always more to learn!) in pregnancy, they are the expert in their body, and their family. During my research I saw that high-level activity was a place that philosophy could make a big difference.
There are plenty of articles on the web about running in pregnancy - in fact, I’ve written a few of them, so I thought I would use this article to discuss how to navigate all the information, how to be the expert in your body, and how to have conversations with your care provider about running, when they might not agree with you.
If you’re a runner, the first thought you might have upon finding out that you’re pregnant is “can I keep running?!” And the answer is different for everyone. During pregnancy, more than any other time in a person’s life, it is incredibly important to listen to your body. Your body knows more about how to grow this baby and keep it safe than we give ourselves credit for. As long as your pregnancy is low risk, the best rule of thumb is to run when you feel like it, and don’t when you don’t while also being sure to prioritize rest, hydration and good nutrition.
While it’s important to learn how to navigate the plethora of information you find on the internet, I think that it’s incredible that we live in an age where information is so readily accessible. While misinformation can be prevalant, access to information allows you to do your own research and be an educated consumer when talking to your healthcare providers.
Yes, I use the word consumer intentionally because that’s exactly what you are. When you hire a healthcare provider for pregnancy, or anytime, you are paying them to provide a service to you. Take the time to shop around and find a provider who’s philosophy matches with yours and who supports you running safely throughout your pregnancy. Trust and mutual respect is the basis of a true shared decision making relationship. You have the right to change providers during your pregnancy, so don’t ever think that you’re stuck.
When doing your own research about your pregnancy, it’s important to stick to reliable, evidence based information. Look for articles that link to their sources for facts and for authors that are known in their field. Talk to other folks who have run through pregnancy and ask them about their experiences, but remember that every pregnancy and every body is unique, so it’s ok if your experience is different.
As you’re discussing running with your care provider, don’t be afraid to ask questions if their advice doesn’t make sense to you. Ask them for their why when they give you advice, and then ask for the research that backs up what they are suggesting. Being honest with your provider is important for your health and safety, but you’re not going to want to be honest if you don’t trust or believe what they’re saying.
Pregnancy is a very special time in a person and a family’s life, and with the right guidance and support, running can be a safe and enjoyable part of your pregnancy experience. Trust your instinct, do your own research and set your self up for success by hiring a care provider that supports you, your plans for pregnancy and birth, and your activity.