starting back after a baby

Help - I'm just about to start running again after having a baby. I am still breast feeding any thoughts or information on the effects it might have. Also what about still softened ligaments! I'm terrified of injury. I'd be glad to hear about other new mums experiences.


  • Hey Lou,

    there might be some useful bits in this running and pregnancy article, or if you've put in your subscriber number, this neat real-life account

    hope it's going well

  • What a marvellous section - worth subscribing for that alone, although I am even less likely to have another baby than to run another marathon...

    The main problems of running while breast-feeding are the predictable ones about needing extra support and being prepared for the possibility that when you get hot and sweaty your breasts will behave like the modified sweat glands they are and make extra foremilk, which may lead to leakage. Harmless as long as you don't get embarrassed about it!

    Anecdotally, some women have reported that their babies don't like the taste of their post-exercise breast milk.

    Your ligaments should be fine now. They get back to normal within days of giving birth, and breastfeeding doesn't delay the process.

    Happy running - and enjoy those wonderful small-baby days. They're soon in their teens and telling you they didn't ask to be born.

    Cheesr, V-rap.
  • Apparently the body still produces relaxin for 6 months after the birth which means the official advice is not to run or do high impact activities until then but I reckon if you listen to your body then all should be fine.

    I've never had any problems with feeding and running. If you run hard then the lactic acid is reported to get into the milk and upset your baby a bit but I wasn't running hard enough to have that effect and now she doesn't feed as frequently so it's not a problem.

    I tried running again 5 weeks after the birth and it was really grim. In fact, it wasn't until my wee one was sleeping through the night at 6 months that I could really face running again regularly as I was just too damned tired before that - I only went out when she had been screaming all day with colic and I needed to de-stress more than I needed to sleep which was very rare - most times sleep won over every time .

    It's taken a long while to feel like I was running again rather than shuffling along - I've only just started doing the odd 5km and 10km and she is now 9 months old. I've found having a Baby Jogger running buggy a great help as it makes it easier to get a run in during the day if I need to.

    I think everyone is different in getting back to running after babies. I know you see people like Sonia O'Sullivan running internationally like ridiculously soon after giving birth but that is just not normal. There's a runner I know who has run for Britain who has found it a real struggle to get back running again after and is still tired and knackered and just not up to racing and training and all that. Her baby is now 6 or so months.

    Sorry for the long post - I think I rambled a bit.

    Good luck with the running - how old is your baby now?
  • Ooops, sorry. Have just read the article which Sean Fishpool suggested reading and it seems that it's now considered okay to start vigorous training "from six weeks to three months following delivery" Eeeeek!

    I felt like I'd never be able to run ever again six weeks afterwards. Still, I sent off my marathon entry form the other day so I obviously don't feel that way any more.

    Good luck and happy running,

  • I found it very difficult after having a baby - that was mainly due to lack of sleep however (and still is 7 years later!!).
    Sorry about that - good luck and I hope you get running again soon!
  • thanks for all of those. My baby is now 4.5 months old. I've been walking for nearly an hour a day since about a week after the birth. I've just started back in the gym and have attempted a couple of 10 minute runs which have been ok. I've also been doing a postnatel excersise class run by a midwife whose advice was to wait until my baby was at least 20 weeks old before doing any high impact stuff as the ligaments are aparently still softened. It seems everybody has a different view on when you are ok to start running again. The breast feeding counceller said you shouldn't run whilst breast feeding because again the natural support which is usually there dissapears whilst you are producing milk.
    So you can see my dilema, no decent medical studies on any of this. I guess I'll take it really easy and see what happens.
    Luckily I got a little angel who sleeps right through the night, so tiredness isn't too much of a problem.
  • Did you run a lot before the whole pregnancy and birth shenanigans?

    Lucky you on having a wee one who sleeps so well. My dear hubby was training for London and Caitlin was still waking 2 or 3 times a night right up until a few weeks before. He always went in to get her out of her cot and then brought her to me to feed and then he took her back to her cot again so I bearly had to surface out of sleep.

    I don't know how he did it. He was often getting up at 6am and doing 7 or so miles and then going out for another 7 or so miles in the evening. He was hoping to run a qualifying time for the Commonwealth Games but then he got injured with 3 weeks to go and is only just getting over the injury now. Poor sod.
  • I did run quite a lot before the whole pregnancy lark - but have an ongoing IT band problem hence my phobia of injury.
    Am off to a session for beginners at the running club tonight so we'll see what happens
  • Hope you have a good session tonight, Louise.

    That 20-week figure has a very plucked-from-the-air feel about it (and you can't have relaxin postnatally because it's only produced by the corpus luteum, whose breakdown plays a part in the onset of labour - although relaxin almost certainly isn't the only ligament-softening hormone in pregnancy) but midwives are often very protective (and rightly so) of "their" new mums' need for lots of rest. The whole pregnancy and birh shebang, followed by having to dance attendance day and night on a baby and soothe the jealous anxieties of partners and older children, is completely exhausting.

    Still, NOT exercising postnatally causes much more long-term damage than getting back in the swing at the earliest opportunity.

    Cheers, V-rap.
  • WombleWomble ✭✭✭
    Three weeks after the birth of my second (and last), I started a 3 times a week gym regime which included some treadmill running, cycling and rowing as well as lots of weights. Did a post-natal class once a week too. By the time I went back to work when she was 16 weeks old I was in good shape and fit. In fact, I came second in a fitness assessment 'competition' at work when she was 5 months old.

    I wasn't even a runner at that stage. My first marathon was when she was 20 months and she thought the medal was 'chocolate gold' and tried to feed it to me. Aah.

    Moral of the story? Horses for courses. Listen to your body but I agree not exercising is more dangerous than starting back as soon as you're ready. Also, you'll bring your child up with an exercising parent as a role model, so no future couch potato.
  • I also started running again when my wee one was six weeks old and initially I felt better than I had sometimes pre-baby! Then I started taking my running a bit more seriously, did a good few 10k's, although I have to admit it was hard work as I breast fed and still do at bedtime. My daughter is now 14 motnhs old and I am in training for the Great North run. I would recommend taking it slowly to begin with as obviusly your body has gone through a lot of changes but it is worthwhile in the end - most other mothers I meet don't know where I get the energy from to go out and run - but if they did it they would feel an awful lot better. I think it is important as well to listen yo your body I was bad for going out when I was really tired and felt worse afterwards. My only problem now is thinking I might have to slow down again if I have another one.
  • Karen, how did you find fitting in the training for your first marathon? The wee one will be 19 months by the time London comes round - it will be my third marathon and I'm not sure what sort of time to aim for in terms of how much running I'll be able to fit in. Last marathon, I was running 4 or 5 times a week and did 3 hours 58 - this time I'd like to aim for 3 hours 45. I guess I'll just have to go on how it feels at the time. What do you do about childcare whilst you're running? I don't think Caitlin will last over an hour in her running buggy.
  • Its like a convention of super mums!

    I'm not in the same league as you lot as I didn't start running till after I had my second kid. I think she was about 4-5 months old when I first went out. I just did it to try and get back in shape. I was still breastfeeding at the time. Hadn't run before this but didn't have any horrible things happen to me because of it!
    I work 3 days a week and manage to fit in two sneeky trips to the treadmill at the gym on the way to pick them up and then try to get out on a weekend for a longer run. I have been a bit slack recently but did realy well last week.
    I think running has been absolutely fantastic at getting me back into shape after having my kids quite close together. And I realy enjoy it, which I spose all you Super mums already do! Now I do it because I like having the time to myself to think and its something I do thats just for me.
  • I found it took a long time to enjoy running again. When I very first started running, I was already pretty fit and so it was never really difficult. Just after Caitlin was born, it was like starting from scratch - I had to stop and walk after 10 minutes. It took weeks to get so that I could run 4 miles without stopping to walk.
    The only thing that kept me going was remembering what it used to be like when running felt good and easy and I could run without thinking about it.

    Running has changed for me post baby too in that I appreciate just being able to run in a way I never did before I'd experienced the relative incapacity of being hugely pregnant. Plus as you say it's time to think and something just for me which post baby is soooo precious.
  • I think its totaly brilliant that you have done loads of marathons and are going to do the London marathon next year. I'd love to do the London marathon. But I have only done one half marathon (Leeds this year) to date. I am supposed to be doing the robin hood half marathon in September. My other half has done the London marathon the last two years, it was him who convinced me to give running a go in the first place. Apart from feeling a little bit daunted that I am not realy capable of doing it it is a worry thinking about sacrificing the time to do the long runs at weekend when you want to be with the kids. Fitting it all in is a realy hard sometimes.
  • Running muppet,
    You mentioned baby joggers. I have been considering these, what are your thoughts on them?
    So far as I can see, there is only one type of running buggy, and these are made by baby jogger, and are £299. Is this right, and if so, are they worth it?
  • RW did a test on them years back - I think the results are archived somewhere on this site. Baby Jogger came out as the best to run with I seem to remember.

    Mine is by Baby Jogger (they're distributed by Little Green Earthlets in this country - are originally from America and adjusted to British Safety Standards). They do a Zipper which a few people in my running club have which is smaller (more manoeverable around shops and easier to fit in your car boot) and 'only' £199. These don't have a lifetime warranty on the frame which the standard Baby Jogger II does but seem to be just as good to run with - better with the 16' wheels as opposed to the 12'. I got the standard BJII one mainly because I preferred the option in terms of seat colours (sad I know) and liked the idea of a lifetime warranty - also it has a longer wheelbase which means there is less weight over the front wheel which makes it a bit lighter to turn.

    I find it great because I couldn't afford a regular gym membership with a creche and with my hubby wanting to run too, sometimes it's the only way to fit a run in. I do prefer to run without it because as I said before it's nice to have time by myself. I know people who run with their partners and take turns in pushing and do 2 hour runs with theirs! I've only run up to 6 miles with mine. One couple bring their daughter out on our Thursday night session and she sleeps whilst they run. Theirs is a different one which can attach to their bikes too as they do lots of cycling as well.

    I've seen quite a few at races too - I'm thinking of doing the Cabbage Patch 10 with mine as hubby wants to run too.

    I got a smaller normal buggy too for using round the shops and things but I find I use the Baby Jogger all the time because it's so nice to walk with - rolls really easily and I can walk properly with big strides and also it's easy to push with one hand although it is a tad tricky to manoevre in small spaces.
    We do lots of walks over the Downs and use it in preference to our back carrier most of the time although you have to lift it over stiles. We've also taken it up a small mountain in Ireland but with the big rocks, in retrospect, a back carrier would have been easier.

    I think it's the best value for money thing we bought. It also has the advantage of making Caitlin known everywhere I go as the baby with the posh buggy.
  • Ginger,
    I think it's fantastic you've done so much already. Fitting it all in is really hard and even more so if you work full or part-time too. For a very few people running is their life and life gets fitted in around running - for the rest of us, life comes first and running fits around that - it's supposed to make life more enjoyable and there's no point sacrificing really important things like time with your kids when you can run marathons in a few years time instead.
  • WombleWomble ✭✭✭
    Having well-trained children is part of the solution. I used to go out running in the evening after they'd gone to bed, so their father couldn't moan too much about excess childcare requirements. I found that I really enjoyed my runs as a time for myself and my thoughts. These days it's rather easier as I live on my own and the children live with their father! He has actually started doing some running and takes the children out early evening, sometimes their on their bikes and sometimes they run too (daughter more likely to run than son - trainee couch potato). I have done a run/bike session with them including a picnic which totalled ~12 miles and they were fine. They are aged 12 & 9 (this Sunday coming). My daughter did her first Race for Life 5k aged 5, and at the great age of 8 this year our pb was 34 minutes.

    They know all about races and supporting and I've now added in the 'club vest spotting' element for extra interest. They are old enough for me to say 'stay there' until I finish the race (although the longest I've tried this for so far is 7k)!
  • Hi everyone, I had to give up running when I was pregnant but started running again in the evnings when he was 8 weeks old. I need to run to keep my sanity after spending the day with the baby and my three year old. No matter how tired I feel when I go out, I always feel better when I get back. This is despite the broken nights sleep and the fact that I am a zombie for half the morning. I don't usually run until around 8 or 9pm when at least one child is asleep (my husband can't cope with two at once) but I spend all day looking forwards to time on my own to get some fresh air and watch the sunset.

    I also have a Zipper baby jogger and would recommend them - they are not cheap but are very light and you can stear with one hand even with a three year old sitting in it. I haven't had a chance to use it for running yet and I have to say I prefer to go out on my own. They are however really for exercise, whether walking or running, and are useless for carrying shopping, if it rains etc.
  • Hi Sarah,
    It is hard when you are at home all the time with the kids. I am very lucky that I work 3 days a week so kind of try to get the best I can from all worlds. On the days I am on my own all day I am very pleased to see their dad come home! My girls are 3 (and three quaters as she says!) and 2 and it is getting easier all the time (the kids that is not the running!!). I reckon when the youngest is 3 it'll just get easier. I don't realy mean "easier" but different. They ask me and their dad if we are going running when ever they see us within a yard of a trainer. They even set off together leg it up and down the stairs, arrive in the kitchen in mock breathlessness say theyve been for a run and demand drinks. Its very funny. I seem to of digressed a bit now! Can't even remember what I was trying to say!
  • I have had 2 children, one is 2 years old, the other is 7 weeks and have been pretty appalled at the lack of encouragement that medical/midwifery staff give to prospective/new mothers. I can see from your letters that everybody has a different set of guidelines. I have decided to stop full time work while my children are very small and have just signed up to a year long training course given by the Guild of Post Natal Exercise Teachers. I hope to teach exercise classes to postnatal women once I qualify. I would love to get hold of some references for good articles. I hope that the course goes beyond the usual 'wait 6 weeks' fairly glib advice, but I would love to be armed with some sound medical reports on running pre & post pregnancy so that I can put a case for it. I (and you)know how much better you feel for being fit - I think it's about time the health service started looking at exercise more positively and really selling it to people BEFORE they get too unfit to enjoy life.

    Gosh - don't I sound militant - must be the hormones.
  • I am curious because I am nine weeks pregnant and two weeks ago my doctor advised me to stop running during my pregnancy. Then I got my copy of RW and read the article on pregnancy. To be honest I am a little baffled. Can anyone tell me where would you get matnernity running gear from. How do we know it is actually safe for the baby.

    Would love to hear your points of view.
  • Hey listen Breda, I'm no expert but in the GP v Emma Litterick stakes, I know who's advice I'd be taking!

    You ought to go back to your doctor and ask him why you've been advised to stop running. Or ask another Doctor.

  • Good luck by the way

  • Do you use a HRM, Breda? If so, aim to keep your heart rate under 150bpm and you're unlikely to run into too many problems. Pregnancy changes your exercise tolerance, so you may find you're barely doing more than brisk walking at that level. Racing is unlikely to be a realistic proposition.

    Ordinary running gear is accommodating enough for a small-to-middling bump, and by the time your bump is big you may be too uncomfortable even to run for the bus.

    There are a couple of well-documented instances of elite athletes running until well into pregnancy (Ingrid Kristianson, Liz McColgan, our own Monique), but not everyone can. The first three months of pregnancy can be so exhausting that the very idea of running would make you laugh if only you had the energy and could open your mouth without heaving.

    I think Emma Litterick's "listen to your body" advice is as good as it gets, and I hope she listens when her body tells her it's time to STOP running.
  • Seriously though, its a pretty bloody irresponsible piece of writing.

    Bolis down to "Never mind what experts say, I'm a runner and I know best"
  • Isn't that what a lot of the stuff on these Forums says too, Chimp? And many runners will identify with her having encountered a health professional who was perhaps a bit trigger-happy in advising that all running must cease forthwith.
  • Whoa V-rap!

    Surely the point here is, her GP has advised her not to run. Now you dont know the reasons for that any more than I do.

    We just can't simply assume that her doctor is anti-running or covering his/her back.

    You may well be right but I feel Breda ought to be going back to her own GP for clarification. If she feels her Doctor is being over-cautious, see another doctor.

    But for pete's sake, dont go against your GP's advice on the strength of a magazine article!
  • Hmmm...dinosaur quickly looks up chapter on "genuine medical contra-indications to running in the first trimester of pregnancy". Bleeding...severe vomiting...anaemia...pain that is more than mild discomfort...wot, is that it? I think even Emma Litterick's body wouldn't be telling her to run if she was experiencing any of these.

    More to the point, I'm not sure I can face nine months of "me and my pregnancy" in RW. We've already lived through it all with that girl from the opposition who seemed to be pregnant for about 18 months.

    But I agree - if in doubt, Breda should certainly...Breda! Sorry! That ill-mannered overgrown monkey shouldn't be trying to talk about you over your head. If you're confused, ask your doctor if there's any specific reason why YOU, in particular, shouldn't be running while pregnant (don't accept vague stuff about "bad for your joints" or even "bad for the baby") and if you don't feel you're getting your questions answered, have a chat with your midwife. Midwives are the experts in normal pregnancy.
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