New Moms: How to Run When You Just had a Baby
Running can benefit both you and the baby. Many women struggle to get out after having a newborn, and that’s okay. Your body went through a lot of changes so it is important to be patient with yourself.
When you do start running again, wait at least two weeks since you have given birth and check with your doctor to make sure you are cleared for aerobic exercise. Remember that every woman is different, so if you need to wait a month or three, that is okay too.
That said, some benefits of running postpartum include:
- Reducing symptoms of depression
- Help clear your head
- Helps to handle stressors of a new baby
- Make time for yourself
How to Start Running After Giving Birth
The most important thing before you start running is to be cleared by your doctor. Giving birth changes the body in a lot of ways, so it is important you are healthy enough for you and your baby to run.
That said, don’t start out running right away. Even if you were a runner before, or ran while you were pregnant, you will want to start by walking and then ease into running. In between runs, do strength training along with core workouts.
It is important to combine both cardio and strength workouts to help get your body back into shape.
If your body has not taken well to walking, try swimming to get your body ready for running. Swimming is a gentle exercise that doesn’t put as much strain on the joints. Continue core workouts while swimming then move up to walking when you feel comfortable.
Make sure to do proper stretches before running as well. Since you did just give birth, your body released a hormone called relaxin, which allowed everything to stretch out. Stay within 70 percent of your stretching ability to ensure you don’t put strain on your joints. You body is still healing so it is easy to overstretch during this time.
Lastly, make sure you have a solid pair of running shoes. The shoes you wore before giving birth may not do it for postpartum runs. If you find yourself getting too sore after walking or running, take a second look at your shoes.
Newborn Schedule and Your Schedule
The newborn schedule, or lack of schedule, can be difficult to plan around. The biggest thing to work around will be feedings. When starting out, feed the baby and then head out for a run. This way, you know your child will be fed and it is much easier to handle a dirty diaper on the run than trying to feed a newborn while out and about.
Sometimes it is hard to get a full run in, so it is okay to do a little bit in the morning and the rest in the evening. It might not be as convenient, but you are working around a little one now and once you both get the hang of things, it will get easier.
If you want a break and need some time for yourself, run early in the morning or in the evening while your partner watches the baby. This may get hard as you will have to end up choosing between sleeping and running.
Make sure to take care of yourself and get enough rest so you can care for your child as well as let your body heal.
Look online for walking/running groups. This makes things easier and you will have company of new moms as well. Mom groups are online and do regular meetups for exercises. If you can’t find one, a gym is another good option if they offer childcare.
The younger your infant is, the more sensitive they will be to the weather. For example, a 12 week old baby may get fussy when the wind hits their face but a two year old might not care. Be more conservative with your weather decisions the younger the infant is.
Dress your baby in layers. They won’t warm up like you will on the run, quite the opposite in fact because they will get colder. Bring an extra blanket just in case they happen to kick the top one off or it gets wet. If the baby gets too hot, take a layer off and store it in the jogger for the rest of the run.
During the winter time, run during the warmest times of the day, and cooler times during peak summer season. This will help keep both you and your baby comfortable.
If it is too icy or snowy, stay inside and find and alternative. You don’t want to fall on the ice and injure yourself with a newborn in the stroller.
When it comes to gear, you will need a jogging stroller. The difference between regular strollers and jogging strollers are the larger wheels and the front wheel can be locked in place (facing forward). There are many kinds of jogging strollers ranging from $100 to $600. Things to think about include adjustable handles, hand brakes, cup holders, and storage space.
A good sports bra is a must after giving birth. A cheap one probably will not do, especially if you plan on building up mileage. Find a solid sports/compression bra as that will keep you more comfortable during the run.
Another piece of gear you will need is proper running shoes. If you are unsure of what shoes are right for you, check out our buying guide so you can find shoes that fit your feet.
Other Things to Think About
As you start your walking/running, watch for pain especially in the hips, back, and buttocks. These are common areas to have pain after giving birth, so listen to your body and take it easy if need be.
Urine leakage is normal, so a panty liner or a pad may be necessary. This may happen when you laugh, sneeze, but it is most likely to happen while you run. If it becomes too much of a problem, talk to your doctor. You can also incorporate kegels into your core exercises to help control the leakage.
Running for the Stay at Home Mom
Being a stay at home mom has its own series of challenges. You may have kids in school, kids in diapers, or a combination of the two. How are you supposed to find time to run? The answer is to get creative.
You will need to think about the following:
Take a close look at your daily schedule. Chances are you have to work around school drop offs, events, your partner’s schedule, children’s schedules, etc.
Find a time that works best for you to go for a run. Some days it may be with the kids and some days it may be without. You can even make running a family activity on the weekend, but it might not be the same every time you go out for a run.
One option is to run before the kids get up and get ready for school. However, this may mean a 5am wake up time. If that is not your thing, you can think about running after the kids are in bed for the night. That way, your partner can keep an eye on any kids who happens to wander out of bed. But that also means sacrificing alone time with your partner.
The goal is to find something that works for both of you. Maybe one night you run alone, one morning you get up early, and you all run together on the weekends. If you possibly cannot find time, consider a treadmill so you can run without leaving the house.
Another option is to take the kids with you on a run. This may or may not be doable depending on your situation. However, if you can take them with you, consider taking them the local track if they are old enough. This way, they can play with each other, throw a ball around, run, and you can get your workout in as well.
Run Alone or With the Kids?
Mom guilt is real, and you may feel it when you try to schedule your runs alone. You may feel guilty about not spending time with your kids, feeling like you need to get more dine around the house, or feel like you just need to be there instead of going for a run. This is completely normal and all moms feel this.
One thing to remember is you need to take care of yourself as well, which means taking time out for a run. This may be your version of self care and this is completely fine. Eventually you and your family will get used to your running and the guilt will fade away.
That said, you may decide to take your kids along on the run with you. When you first start out, it may take some time to get in the swing of things. Don’t worry about your numbers. Over time, you and your child will get into a rhythm and then you will be able to focus more on your progress and numbers.
Be prepared to stop on your run with kids. They may need snacks, water, a diaper change, or anything else that comes up. Starting and stopping may be normal. Once you understand what your kids need to be comfortable on the run, it will be easier to prepare. For example, a jogger with a cup holder so the kids have easy access to water and snack will be worth it.
Keep in mind your kids may hate it – there are some who just don’t like the stroller, if that happens you may have to opt to go by yourself.
Running Gear for the Stay at Home Mom
The gear you will need will be similar to a new mom, such as jogging stroller, a good sports bra, and a solid pair of running shoes. Other things to think about is where to put the water. As your kids get older, they may opt to ride a bike or rollerblade while you run. A camelback full of water will be easier to carry than individual bottles.
A first aid kit is necessary if your kids are biking next to you as well. This can be as simple as a few bandaids and some antibacterial cream. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just something to fix up scrapes in case your child scrapes a knee.
How Young is Too Young to Run?
Want to run marathons with your family but are unsure if your children are old enough? Marathons have different entry requirements, some have a minimum age of 14 and some don’t have a cutoff as long as there is parental consent.
The International Marathon Medical Directors Association did release a statement advising against children under the age of 18 running full marathons. The reasons centered around the physical and psychological stress a marathon does to a child’s body.
However, doctors have gone back and forth about the benefits versus the harm running at a young age does. The best bet is to talk to your pediatrician about running, the mileage, and how often your child can do it.
Running for the Working Mom
As a working mom, you have to worry about work/life balance, preparing everything ahead of time, and picking and choosing between activities. It can get overwhelming at times. We break it down to make it just a little easier.
Working, taking care of kids, meal planning, everything you do all day every day needs to be planned and schedule or it might be forgotten. We are all human, so it happens.
Instead of trying to scramble last minute and figure when you’re going to get your run in, take time at the beginning of the week to schedule it.
Work, family, and self-care balance is a must, which is why it is okay to ask for help. Create a chore chart for your family. Rotate duties weekly or monthly so kids and partners don’t get bored. This helps you get things done around the house so there is more freetime for running.
Running while your family is sleeping is a good option. If this is not feasible, try running in shifts if your partner is a runner too.
The key to success is all about preparation. Preparing lunches the night before can save time. If you run during this time, have your partner prepare lunches and switch shifts the next night. This way, you both share duties and still get your runs in.
Prepping meals on the weekend can also be extremely helpful. Many times they can be popped in the oven so you have more time to spend together as a family before and after dinner.
By spending this time together, you will feel less guilty if you take time to run while the kids are still awake.
A recovery meal can be difficult as you still have kids to take care of when you get home. Chocolate milk or a protein shake can be quick to make and you can drink it on the go.
It’s Okay to Pick and Choose
Do you find yourself having lots of activities on the weekends? Kids’ birthday parties, sports, family time, extra work, etc. It’s okay to pick and choose which activities your family goes to and which ones to skip.
Let’s be real, you can’t do it all. Say no to overtime, say no to a birthday party, or limit activities to what is comfortable with your family.
Runner Moms: Final Thoughts
As a runner and a mother, you have the tough job of raising kids while trying to find time for yourself. It can be done with some scheduling, preparation, and working together as a family.
Are you a mom that runs? We’re curious to hear your feedback, tips and tricks!