Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, midwife or nurse. The information expressed in the series “Running Pregnant – By JBRobinBog.com” should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before running during pregnancy and postpartum.
The first trimester of pregnancy was filled with strange body changes, tiredness and the realization of being pregnant, getting over the sock and stresses of what was to come. All in all during my second trimester I have experienced my pregnancy with much more enthusiasm and excitement.
The second trimester I expected to feel better in a flash, which I did, for a whole week, in which I attempted and complete a 21 km race. After that my body took a dip again struggling to recover and to get back on track. You can read about that here: CLICK HERE!
And my third Trimester, well it felt very short – I expected that the moving into my third trimester that my body would slowly start getting heavier and that the first thing to change slowly but surely would be my average pace. Unfortunately to my surprise everything just came to a screeching halt, never mind a gradual slowdown…
I had planned my runs in such a way as to do them in the mornings only, not more than 6km at a time and one run every other day with no runs over the weekend so that I could sleep in a little.
However when I ran there was a few things that I had to learn to work with:
In my third trimester I experienced really bad leg cramps, majority was in my calves but I got one or two leg cramps in my thigh – which is the most awkward place, because how on earth do you stretch that?
Leg cramps are usually caused by the weight gain of pregnancy and changes in your blood circulation. Added pressure from baby may also be placed on the nerves and blood vessels that go to your legs.
Cramping can also be a sign of dehydration. Your urine should be relatively clear or light yellow in color if you are properly hydrated. If your urine is darker yellow, it might mean that you’re not getting enough water.
I would get cramps in my calves so bad in my sleep ,that I would wake up screening – OK, this sounds dramatic, but it was actually that sore! My Poor husband would jump up and quickly push my toes and feet from a point position to a 90 degrees angle and rub my calves very fast. The worst part was the next morning my muscles would be so sore! Like I actually did some sort of calve exercise!! After a while recognized the feeling of my legs starting to cramp while I was sleeping, and I would jump out of bed really fast and stand with my feet flat on the floor and it would go away. It was as if my legs cramped the moment I pointed my toes forward (Like a ballerina) or tried to stretch out my legs.
I spoke to my doctor and she recommended I use Slowmag tablets – I started with one a day and closer to the end I drank two a day with my other vitamins. You might also consider eating more magnesium-rich foods, such as whole grains, beans, dried fruits, nuts and seeds. I also found that regular foam rolling and stretching helped my muscles to relax, but be careful when foam rolling, haha you will see with the belly its to as easy as it once was.
How I Countered Leg Cramps:
- Staying active and moving around is important
- Stay Hydrated
- Eat Magnesium rich foods
- Speak to your doctor about an additional supplement to help
Lightning crotch and Pressure
I started to encounter a very uncomfortable pain near the end of my second trimester – It was almost like after going for a run I had hurt my crotch muscles. I couldn’t even put a pair of pants on whilst standing – I had to literally sit down and take weight off my legs!
I got a little concerned about it, because it hurt, ALLOT! After a good run it was almost impossible for me to walk properly during the day. You end up feeling kinda silly, being able to run 5km but you can barely walk thereafter, haha which didn’t make sense.
I started doing some research and there is actually a name for it – Lightning Crotch
Lightning Crotch is caused by the pressure and position of the baby as they move down into the birth canal to get ready for delivery. It’s very difficult to explain what it feels like, but I’m going to try;
Lightning crotch can be described in two instances from my point of view. First I experienced it as a pain that feels similar to when you’ve completely overworked a muscle group, like when you have such bad d.o.m.s. that you cannot move or use that muscle group. A sharp tearing, burning sensation in your lady parts that actually stops you in your tracks and prevents you from continuing whatever you’re doing.
Secondly it started to appear very unexpectedly – suddenly a sharp pain would shoot down, like a stabbing pain as the baby moves and adds pressure on your pelvis and everything down there. This unexpected pain is actually the worst as your never sure when it’s going to happen. This ended up being one of the things that prevented me from continuing running till the end. The pain is just too intense and it would mean that I would basically be K.O for the rest of the day.
For some ladies Lightning crotch can mean that their approaching their delivery date, but it can also happen weeks before your delivery date – for me this was the case.
Most of the time, the pain is not serious, especially if it’s not interfering with your daily activities and isn’t accompanied by any other symptoms. Lightning crotch typically has two main causes- the actual pressure of the baby’s head on your cervix, or the baby putting pressure on nerve endings around your pelvis. If you’re having pain or any other symptoms like fever, increased or abnormal discharge, bleeding, or fluid leaking, schedule an appointment with your doctor. Be especially cautious if you are under 37 weeks in your pregnancy.
How I Countered Lightning Crotch:
- I Started to run every other day
- I listened to my body and rested on days I felt like it was needed
- Unfortunately I had to stop running due to pain, at 37 Weeks it hurt too much and I was forced to stop running.
Pick up your feet:
At a point in my third trimester I realised that I’m starting to have a hard time seeing my feet, also with my legs doing more and more work I started to realise that I was actually dragging my feet –Oh and wobbling a little like a duck… Not very pretty but this was applicable to my running as well. I found that my gait would change and that running on a smooth surface was important. The way I was running before was changing to make up for the body changes I had under gone and slowly but surly between kicking rocks, stumbling and having a hard time predicting my foot landing I realised that I might fall if I’m not careful. I never expected to have my movement’s change this much, so take the time and be attentive to your feet, falling at this point would not be a very good idea!
At a point I had my Husband join me on a few runs. With him running in front it made it easy for me to see what he did with his feet – and he warned me if there was something ahead and I felt a little safer that if I did stumble or fall, he was at least there to help me.
How I countered not seeing my feet:
- Get a running partner
- Run on smooth even surfaces
Weight gain is something that I made peace with in my second and third trimester. Baby is growing so much in the third trimester as the concentration gets taken off the organs and more and more emphasis is placed on fattening baby up, bones also become fully developed at this point adding to the weight. At week 30, baby will weigh nearly 1.4kg, and at week 36 there is a fast and significant weight gain toward the final birth weight. The Mayo Clinic reports that starting at week 36, your baby gains about half 200-205 grams per week for the next month. This differs from pregnancy to pregnancy but it’s safe to say that although you might feel like your gaining weight, just remember your baby is growing healthy and you’ll lose the weight faster than you think. Especially if you stay active after birth.
What I did however realize with the extra weight was that while running my legs were working considerably harder. The extra weight and bump changes the way I moved when Running. My gait was changing and as a result old injuries and other things were starting to peek out their heads.
– ITB coming back: this was probably due to my hip movement changing and my tummy muscles not giving as much support towards my hips and over all balance.
– Stiff calves and Shin pain: this was definitely due to the extra weight. Unfortunately a good stretch is all that could be done here. Along with some strength exercises.
In my first trimester and beginning second I was still running with my ASICS FuseX Lytes, I love these shoes and it was sad to think that they were not giving me the necessary support any more. I switched to my ASICS Fuji Trabuco 5 Trail running shoes as they were the only Running shoes I had that could give me the best support for the changes.
I then switched to running with my ASICS Dynamis as the ASICS Fuji Trabuco 5’s are a little heavy, adding to the weight for my poor legs. ASICS Dynamis features FlyteFoam™, with their premium midsole, along with BOA lacing and DynaPanel for cushioning, a very snug fit and I must say reliable support. Its a very comfortable shoe and I have had no problem running with them sofar. The shoe is for a neutral to over pronation, giving me the extra needed support. The BOA Lacing also makes it very easy for me to tie my shoes properly without the hassle of my belly getting in the way, which is perfect.
How I counter they weight gain:
- Unfortunately you can’t really stop gaining weight, but keep to a good diet and stay hydrated
- have a look at your shoe support if aches and pain become apparent the weight might be changing your gait
- Do a few extra squats and calve raises. Remember to keep doing your additional weight training to help your body adapt to the changes
- Also remember it is your final month before baby comes – If you have to , take a break and take it easy.
No Pregnancy is the same. All bodies react diffidently – some baby bumps grow fast and others slower. I personally felt like my Belly was popping really fast and this definitely felt weird during my running.
In my third trimester my Belly kept getting bigger and bigger – This made having extra support more important than ever.
I started doing research and looking for a way that I could support my body whilst running. I had a picture in my head of those back support belts that bodybuilders wear when they lift heavy weights. Luckily research proved that there are much more flattering support belts out there for Mommies to be. Maternity support bands/belts are designed to support the lower back and abdomen during pregnancy. These flexible support bands/belts can provide sufficient support to active women who are pregnant, especially during the second and third trimesters.
I wrote another Article on the different support bands available here is South-Africa, follow link below to read more about it.
This is how I countered belly and back pain:
- Invest in a good running belt
The term originated in 1872 when an English doctor named John Braxton Hicks described the contractions that occur before real labor. Braxton Hicks contractions can begin as early as the second trimester. However, they are most commonly experienced in the third trimester. When this happens, the muscles of the uterus tighten for approximately 30 to 60 seconds, and sometimes as long as two minutes.
Braxton Hicks are also called “practice contractions” because they are a preparation for the real event and allow the opportunity to practice the breathing exercises taught in childbirth classes. I found that I started to get braxton hicks contractions whilst running. The doctor said it could be a sigh that my uterus is getting annoyed for lack of better explanation, and that I should consider maybe lessening my distances I run at a time. Braxston hicks should be painless and its really just a weird feeling of your tummy muscles tightening.
I got Braxston hicks felt more apparent in my second trimester than in my third trimester – I’m not sure if I maybe got use to them and kinda forgot about them in my third trimester but also with my running that was allot less frequent in my third trimester I think my body didn’t feel the need to bother me too much with these. But I still found that on days where I was relatively active and moving around allot I would get regular Braxston hicks especially on the evenings my husband and I would go for walks.
How I counter Braxston hicks:
- I now see them as warning sign that I need to take a break. I found that when I move too much or have an active day it’s a way for my body to say- ‘please chill out!’
- Run shorter distances. I found that every time I get to 8km my tummy contracts, so I now opt to do less than 8km at a time. Very boring since I love the longer distances but unfortunately it has to be done.
- How much is allot? If you feel like your getting them really regularly, discuss it with your doctor, its always hard to know when something is happening allot or normal if you’ve never experienced it before, and I have to say it is a REALLY weird feeling!
This last one was a very big thing for me – throughout all three the trimesters it was a big lifestyle change to not be able to run as much. What most people don’t get is that its about more than just staying fit, its about staying sane and being able to fulfill your goals and stay in a routine that makes the un-bearable things in your like, ‘Adulting’, a little more bearable. Once you take away a persons coping mechanisms , there is bound to be a bit of eye twitching and meltdowns, all of which have there own grounding relevance, apart from hormones and body changes.
I found that it was so easy for people to brush off your mood swings and bad days to hormones and being pregnant, very little people actually tried to understand the frustration. The important part I found was to hold on to the few people that did understand, and that had a sense of knowing what your going through.
I’ve actually made so many new friends in this series and journey of running pregnant, and they’ve all had their contributions to making it a good overall experience. Look for people to relate to in this time – find friends and speak to people – you’ll be so surprised by how many other Ladies are out there in exactly the same situation – From the heartburn through to the judgement and how to deal with the criticism of people not really getting you.
How I counter Frustration:
- Get a grip on the realization of the situation you are going through
- Decide on a goal that is achievable and realistic for you, your baby and your body – everybody is different and comparing your pregnancy with other fit mommies will just make you depressed. Rather take inspiration from then and do what you can – I promise you , your still doing more and better than the average Joe!
- Make Friends – Reach out to a network of other Pregnant /Fit Mommies in your community, share your frustrations with them, they will understand and might even be able to give you some advice. I met a few ladies on Instagram that ended up becoming great friends with.
- Remember to be in the moment – Looking back now, I have to say time flew by – and before you know if your pregnancy will be over – Take advantage of some of the down time and remember to enjoy it as well, no pregnancy is the same and before you know if it will be over!
Thank you so much for following me on this series! I really hope that it will help many more Pregnant Runners along their journeys! Thank you so much to all the Amazing Ladies I’ve met along the way, you guys are awesome and have made my Journey so much more special!
Remember to enjoy your healthy active pregnancy and be proud of every step you have taken and take during your pregnancy, your body and Baby will thank you for it in the future!
Follow me here and on JBRobinblog.com on what the My postpartum Journey is like!