My Postpartum Running Journey

  Mar 5, 2021  |  #Motherhood

I’m about 7 months postpartum. That feels like such a long time to me (a whole training cycle), but yet, at the same time, it feels like a very short period of time.

When I talk about it in the context of rebuilding pelvic floor strength for running and exercise and starting to feel like myself again, it feels short.

When you think about it, we carry a baby for 9 months – technically, it’s closer to 10 months when it’s all said and done. And then the process of giving birth is a HUGE energy sucker and transformational experience.

Your whole body changes throughout this whole process and changes again. 

Obviously, it’s going to take time to return to your pre-pregnancy life, exercise commitment and more. 

selfie 20 weeks pregnant in the gym

This has been so much easier for me to understand and live out, this second time postpartum. I did see a pelvic floor specialist after having Camryn but it wasn’t for multiple visits. If you don’t have access to a pelvic floor PT, doing a program like this that focuses on post-natal care and core can be huge. 

I feel like the patience necessary to rebuild your body without an extreme focus on burning calories or just doing endurance activity is a test in time and patience. Like I tell my clients I work with for compulsive exercise.

Now, disclaimer, CLEARLY, I am not a physical therapist or pelvic floor physical therapist. I am just sharing my experience and lessons learned.

Our bodies are all different and how they stretch and recover varies too. So, my protocol may vary from yours.

girl after running while pregnant with purple hat

Is Running During Pregnancy Safe?

I always recommend consulting with your individual therapist before engaging in any sort of treatment plan or exercise. Running with pelvic floor dysfunction is a recipe for disaster, and may ruin your running further into your career, even if you aren’t seeing the effects now. 

That line of thinking is what I really had to remind myself earlier on when I wanted to get back to running but I knew my body wasn’t ready yet. 

We also had some wonderful discussions on the Nail Your Nutrition podcast with professionals in these areas, such as Abby Bales, a doctor of Physical Therapy, and Jessica Valant.

I recommend checking those out for more details on what they had to say about strengthening your pelvic floor, since they are the experts!

My Running During Pregnancy Experience

To me, running and pregnancy have lots of parallels – both journeys can be long! However, I was very active during both pregnancies, and have written about exercise and running during pregnancy many times on the blog. 

I ran during pregnancy with Camryn and about 28-30 weeks with Hannah.

Running during pregnancy in the first trimester is generally the easiest, as I ran (part of) the Disney marathon with Hannah as a little bean in my belly. 

However, running did change for me (as expected), so here are some of my favorite tips for running in the third trimester

So, while I can’t answer the question of whether running can strengthen your pelvic floor during pregnancy, I know that running too quickly post partum can cause harm. 

I only suffered a first degree tear during my VBAC Home Birth but there are also after-effects to consider. 

For example, I had a little diastasis recti (separation of the abdominal muscles) so I have specific PT exercises and ab work to do that apply to that condition.

My physical therapist advised against doing any planks or crunches or anything that in my case, could pull my abs further apart. 

mom kissing newborn baby in bed

Time and proper healing is helping to heal my diastasis recti.

Some people think running after pregnancy will never be the same, and while that may be true for some people, I’m hopeful that putting in the time for proper stretching and exercise will pay off.

I currently have not experienced pelvic floor pain after running, and I 100% attribute that to waiting a significant amount of time to start running after pregnancy and strengthening other core muscle groups. 

C&O Gravel Trail in December

My current running schedule is just based off of how I feel. I usually do some sort of exercise 5-6 days a week, whether it’s a walk/run combo, a peloton ride, or a strength class. It feels good to move my body, and to life weights again. 

I find myself hunched over when I’m nursing Hannah so taking the time to correct my posture in exercises and building up my muscle groups is imperative for me.  

Running After Pregnancy

I have previously written about running after a C Section and what that journey looked like. But honestly, knowing what I know now, I probably could have waited even longer to return to running. 

I ran my first half marathon postpartum about 7 months after having Camryn. That’s crazy to me! I am not ready to run a half marathon now. 

girl holding medal in front of Charlotte Novant Half Marathon screen

I am running 3-4 days a week. But it’s still nothing long – 2-3 miles at most, with some walking spurts thrown in there.

I hope that once it gets warmer and nicer, I can put together some longer stretches outside.

Mostly, though, I’m doing a lot of peloton cycling and strength classes, and I’m loving it. I’ve taken this opportunity to focus more on strength and other muscle groups that I neglected for so long and I find that it’s really helping.

I do hope to run a half marathon later this year, but time will tell. I’m really focused on listening to my body right now, and fueling it appropriately.

Balancing breastfeeding and running is an act in and of itself – you need so much more energy (calories) and nutrients, and need to be careful of bone health. This is where I really rely on easy snacks to quench that breastfeeding hunger

Snack plate with carrots, turkey, strawberries and peanut butter

Pelvic Floor Exercises

I also have an abundance of pelvic floor and core exercises from my pelvic floor PT that I am working on. Some with a medicine ball and bands, and lots of understanding breathing and body work.

I bought an Elvie (yes, it was an investment), so I can have a better handle on doing proper kegels at home. I really like the instant feedback (you connect it to blue tooth) so it’s like having a private coach at home. 

elvie kegel trainer box

Currently, I see my pelvic floor PT bimonthly, and work on my “homework” exercises between sessions. I also use the Elvie at home to ensure I’m gaining progress. 

So, that’s been my experience so far. I hope you find it helpful!

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