Many women can't wait to begin running again after baby. I was one of those.
"How Can I start the transition back into running?" I asked my doctor at my post-natal six week checkup.
Some women begin running as soon as six weeks after birth, while others wait three to six months. If you've had a C-section, you'll need to wait until your body has fully healed. Talk to your doctor about what's right for you before you get started.
Here are my 10 tips for returning to the wonderful sport of running after giving birth:
1. Get fitted for running shoes
Your shoe size or your foot shape might have changed while you were pregnant, so getting fitted for running shoes at a local running store is important post-pregnancy. Bring your old running shoes (if you have them) and ask lots of questions like: Can I use these shoes to run both pavement and trails? How long will they last? Do I have the right socks?
2. Search out comfortable and durable running clothes
Invest in a great sports bra, running tops, shirts, socks, and headbands. If you're a morning runner (or want to be!), consider placing all your clothes out the night before a run. This has helped me tremendously to get motivated and it is a time saver.
3. Make sure your pelvic floor is ready
Your pelvic floor becomes stretched and weakened during pregnancy (hello, leaks!). Talk to your doctor about this issue, and when your doctor says it's safe, begin exercises like pelvic tilts and squats. You need to have a strong pelvic floor before beginning a high-impact sport like running post-pregnancy.
4. Be kind to yourself
Know it's going to take a while — perhaps even up to a year — to get back to the level you were before pregnancy. Your body will feel different. Slowly build yourself up again as your body continues to heal post-pregnancy. I found the "run walk run" method developed by Olympic runner Jeff Galloway really helped me get started running again after baby. This is also a great way for beginning runners to get started.
5. Know your breasts might leak
If you are breastfeeding you might find yourself with more than sweat dripping at the end of your run. In some women, running can trigger the letdown reflex. Feeding your baby right before you begin can help, as can wearing an extremely supportive sports bra.
6. Commit to a time and a schedule
This one will be trial and error at first. Do you prefer to run in the morning or at night? What works with your children's and partner's schedules? What works with your child's nursing schedule? Once you settle into a routine it will become second nature to head out the door!
7. Consider a jogging stroller
But wait! Experts advise waiting until baby is 6 to 8 months of age and has full head and neck control before bringing them along on a run. Talk to your pediatrician before bringing baby along. One they're old enough you might find a jogging stroller is a great way to get baby to sleep!
8. Join a running group and find a partner
A running group and an accountability partner can be an incredible place for friendship, comfort, and support. If you can't find a running group in your area, you can find them online.
9. Consider investing in a running app
While some running apps are free, I decided to invest in the Studio App for $10 a month. I use it daily and find all the classes to be incredibly motivating. Find an app that works for you.
10. Get motivated
Following a runner blog or reading a book always helps me get motivated! I like "Runners World Complete Book of Running," and love the blogs ItsAMaryThon, NYCRunningMom, and HungryRunnerGirl. Each of them offers advice on postpartum running, nursing, and much more.
Alicia Marshall is the publisher of Macaroni Kid Scranton, Pa.