Whether you can't wait to get back out running, or want to start with a gentle jog, here's some great advice about running after giving birth.
Build Up Slowly
Just as you would after injury or surgery, and just as you did when you started running, you'll need to build up the pace and the mileage when you return to running after giving birth. Use walk/run methods, take plenty of recovery days, and stretch (using postnatal stretches and strengthening exercises to focus on your hips, pelvis, back and glutes).
Relaxin, Running And Ligaments
Your body's ligaments become more pliable to prepare for birth, but get back to normal within days of giving birth. The hormone relaxin is only produced before the birth, although other hormones are responsible for softening ligaments, too, hence we are often warned not to take part in high-impact exercise for 20 weeks after the birth. However, plenty of new Mums return to running long before this. As long as you are not suffering any specific problems, and you listen to your body and discuss your return to running with your midwife or health visitor, you should be fine to try running before the 20-week period has elapsed.
Breastcare For Postpartum Runners
It goes without saying that you'll need to get fitted for at least one new sportsbra for your return to running after giving birth. Ideally, get several - so you can always have one clean when the opportunity to run arises, and so you can accommodate fluctuations in breast changes. If you're going back to running whilst still breastfeeding, bear in mind that your breasts are likely to produce extra foremilk. This is harmless but could be embarrassing or uncomfortable, so prepare for the eventuality. Some women find that their babies don't like the taste of post-run breastmilk.
If your baby isn't a great sleeper (and how many of them are, particularly in the early days?) then watch out for the effects of sleep deprivation. It's wise to make the decision not to run if you're feeling shattered through lack of sleep, because your co-ordination, reflexes, balance and awareness will be slow and out of kilter. Don't risk accident or injury. Rest and try to catch up on sleep or walk or cross train if you want to.
Invest In A Running Buggy
We reviewed several running buggies a few months ago - take a look at the article for some guidance on how to select a running buggy which suits your needs as a running Mum and supports your baby as they grow.
Listen To Instinct
Take on board official advice, look to other Mums for inspiration and set yourself some goals, but ultimately remember to listen to instinct. Listen to your body, your energy levels, your fatigue, to any aches and pains, and to your emotions. Perhaps you don't want to go out running just yet. That's fine. Or maybe you simply must at least lace up your running shoes and head out of the door, to connect with your own identity.
However you feel as a postpartum runner, there is plenty of support and guidance out there for you when you choose to return to running after giving birth. Good luck.