How to Get Back to Running After Pregnancy

Exercise After Pregnancy Tips

Many new moms want to establish a regular running habit to lose baby weight, gain more energy, and get some much-needed alone time for themselves. If you recently had a baby (congratulations!) and feel like you're ready to start running post-partum, here are some tips to stay safe, comfortable, and motivated.

Get a support system in place.

mom with stroller
Steve Debenport/Getty

Establishing a regular running habit as a new mom is not an easy task, but admitting that you need help will be a key to your success. Whether you get family members or outside help, it's important that you make a plan for who will help you with childcare while you're running. Be creative when thinking about possible childcare options. For example, you could watch a friend's child while she runs, and then go out for a run while she cares for your little one. Or, run together with your strollers so you can keep each other motivated.
Also see: How Parents Can Find Time to Run

Talk to your doctor about when to start.

Before you jump right back into running, make sure you consult your ob/gyn about when it's safe to run again. He or she may recommend waiting anywhere from two to six weeks post-partum, depending on your delivery and recovery.

Don't expect immediate results.

Even if you exercised during your pregnancy, you're still not at the same fitness level that you were before you got pregnant and you're not going to get back to that place overnight. Your body is not the same as it was before you got pregnant, and you're dealing with some new challenges such as lack of sleep and possibly breastfeeding. The first few weeks -- or even months -- may be extremely difficult, both physically and mentally. But consistency is key -- keep at it! After the first 4-6 weeks, the running will get easier and feel more "normal", and you'll start seeing more and more results.

Practice good nutrition and hydration.

Proper nutrition and hydration is important for all runners, but especially for breastfeeding moms. If you're breastfeeding, you need about 500 extra calories a day.

Follow a schedule.

Using a training schedule is a great way to make sure you maintain your motivation and use a gradual approach to avoid injury and burnout. Even if you were already running before pregnancy, if you've taken a long break, you should start with a beginner schedule and ease back into it.
Also see: Beginner Running Schedules

Invest in a jogging stroller.

Is childcare an issue? A jogging stroller allows you to go for a run without having to worry about it. When my kids were really little, I tried to time runs with their naps, so they could snooze while I ran.
Also see: Tips for Running With a Jogging Stroller

Find a gym with childcare.

Many gyms offer childcare as a benefit of membership or for a small fee (much less than you would pay for a babysitter). The kids' room at my gym always has at least one or two kids there, so my kids can have a supervised playdate while I get in a run.
Also see: Tips for Choosing a Gym

Remember the benefits of running.

As a busy mom, you'll feel pulled in many directions and may start to feel a little "mommy guilt" about taking time to exercise. But it’s important to remember that you're not only exercising for you and your health, but also for your family. I always find that I'm a better mom -- more energetic, more patient, less stressed -- when I make time for running in my life. My husband realizes this as well, so he really makes an effort to support me and my running habit. As my kids get older, I want to be a role model for them as they learn about the importance of exercise and a healthy lifestyle.
Also see: 10 Great Reasons to Run

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