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The Ugly Side of Running Postpartum

So you were a runner before you were pregnant, and your growing belly slowed you down. Now that you’re six-week post-labor, your doctor is giving you the green light to resume all activities. What thrilling news. Running is a fantastic way to build cardiovascular capacity and strength, lose weight, and have some well-deserved “me time.”

But wait… It’s also a high-impact sport that involves your entire body, and you may want to give yourself a little bit more time to heal before lacing up and heading out. To help you understand why, here is the truth about running postpartum, and what you can do to get ready for your first postnatal run:

  1. Pelvic floor weakness is common.

    What is it about? Both pregnancy and birth weaken and stretch the pelvic floor -- the sling of muscles that supports your bladder, bowel and uterus. Having a weak pelvic floor makes it harder to squeeze the muscles at the bottom of your bladder, and if you exercise before shaping it back up, you may find that you leak a little wee.

    What can you do about it? In France, pelvic floor rehabilitation is mandatory and covered by insurance. It isn’t the case in the US, but you can (and should) do exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles soon after birth.

  1. You may have diastasis recti.What is it about? Diastasis recti is the separation of the abdominal muscles and the thinning of the tissue connecting them. This condition, which can result in a gaping hole, is common among new moms. It needs to be checked for, and you should bring those muscles back together to prevent further separation. What can you do about it? Your personal trainer, doctor or midwife should check for the condition. If the space between your left and right belly muscles is ½-finger wide, it isn’t severe. If it is 4-finger wide, your core is weak, and you may be at risk for developing hernias. One very effective exercise to strengthen your transverse abdominis (the deep core muscle) is “imprinting,” as you would do in Pilates. Or check out these core exercises.

  1. Your breasts can feel heavy or sore.What is it about? Whether you are nursing or not, your rib cage and breasts are larger and heavier than they used to be. The up-and-down bounce of running can make this condition worse. What can you do about it? Now more than ever, you want to invest in a good sports bra. It should provide support, be easy to put on and off, and allow for nursing, if needed. If you are breastfeeding, it should be breathable to prevent mastitis, an infection of the breast tissue that can occur when you sweat and compress your breasts and nipples. Here are our favorite bras: Title Nine , Shock Absorber , and Moving Comfort.

  1. Irregular bowel movements happen.What is it about? New moms are notoriously plagued with constipation, and running can help loosen things up. But it can be difficult for your gut to adjust to the running motion, and you may end up having that infamous run with “the runs.” What you can do about it? Make sure not to eat too much and wait a little while before pounding the pavement. You’ll also want to fuel up on foods that are easy to digest and that can rev up your engine. Try to snack on a banana, toasts with peanut butter, or oatmeal.

  1. Postpartum can come with flat feet and swollen lower legs.What is it about? With a baby born, come swollen legs and a different shoe size. The weight that women gain during pregnancy puts a lot of pressure on their feet and can cause the arch of the foot to flatten. What can you do about it? The good news is, it’s a great excuse to go (running) shoe shopping. Before you start running again, get fitted for a good pair of running shoes with ankle and arch support.

Congratulations on running again. It’s such a great way to relax and get back in shape. But remember, getting back on the trail is a marathon, not a race. So take a few precautions, and you’ll get your groove back in no time.

Photography by Justin Borucki for Well Rounded NY.

Who says you have to wait for birthdays or holidays to give your bestie a great gift? A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs in these more-than-trying times. We've rounded up some of our favorite go-to gifts that are certain to be a bright spot in her week. But be warned, you may want to snag a few for yourself. (You deserve it, mama.)

Here are some our favorite "just because" gifts to give our hardworking mama friends.

New Mother face + body care duo

volition face + body care duo

This correcting oil and stretch mark minimizer is perfect for the pregnant mama looking to keep her pregnancy glow. The correcting oil brightens the skin while reducing dark spots, and the stretch mark minimizer works to smooth her ever-growing belly.

$70

Allover roller

esker allover roller

This jade roller goes beyond your typical face roller and can be used anywhere on the body. It works to increase stimulation and reduce puffiness and is perfect for applying any oils to the face or body. Plus, it feels like a mini spa treatment.

$65

Kombucha making kit

farmsteady kombucha making kit

What could be a more perfect gift for the health-obsessed friend? This kombucha making kit comes with everything you need to brew your own homemade green tea kombucha. They'll think this is the tastiest gift ever.

$45

Laetitia lipstick

cupid & psyche laetitia

This red lipstick is perfect for your makeup enthusiast bestie who is looking to spruce up her life in quarantine. Crafted in the United States, these bee and vegan-friendly and cruelty-free lipsticks are created to flatter all complexions. Cupid and Psyche Beauty makes finding the perfect red lip way too easy!

$23

Jigsaw puzzle

inner piecec jigsaw puzzle

Mamas need to destress now more than ever during quarantine. This adorable jigsaw puzzle is perfect for the mama who needs a brain break! The 500-piece puzzle designed by artist Ray Oranges features an abstract gradient design that fits a standard frame when completed. Bonus: It's printed on recycled paper and the company donates $1 from every puzzle sold to youth mindfulness programs.

$30

Matilda's Bloombox

matilda's bloombox

If we have to be stuck inside, we might as well have some gorgeous florals to brighten up the space. Matilda's Bloombox locally sources blooms, delivers them to her door and provides simple tips on how to arrange it into a beautiful bouquet.

$39

'I Am Enough' bracelet

I Am Enough bracelet

Let this dainty bracelet serve as a constant reminder to your bestie that she is enough. She'll wear this on her wrist and read this daily oath to herself, "I Am Enough."

$35

Glow assorted teas

vahdam low assorted teas

This tea gift box set covers the entire spectrum of flavors from sweet to spicy. Individually packaged in beautiful tins, your gal pal will feel like a queen sipping her morning tea. Originally $40, this set is currently on sale for just $24. We'll take two, please.

$24

Find your voice journal

find your voice journal

Journaling is a great way to ease anxiety and will slow your bestie's racing mind before bed. This gift is perfect for first time journalists and includes prompts, daily quotes and coloring pages to help her unlock her potential and find her voice.

$22

Premium frother

shore magic premium frother

This gift is fitting for your latte-sipping bestie who can't go a day without her coffee. All she has to do is add two scoops of collagen to her favorite drink, and she'll have a perfectly foamy drink ready in seconds. Skipping the drive-thru line has never been so easy!

$25

Bath soak infusion kit

maude bath soak infusion kit

Say hello to hydration! She'll be feeling smooth and relaxed as ever after a long bath soaking in these salts. This vegan + cruelty-free set incorporates dead sea salt and dehydrated coconut milk powder for an ultra hydrating experience.

$32

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

It's a hard-earned title she answers to a hundred times per day. Whether she's new to the club or a seasoned professional, this delicate script 'mama' necklace is guaranteed to be a perfect fit.

$105

Superfood honey

Beekeeper's Naturals B.Powered honey

With a lack of sleep and jam-packed days, getting through the afternoon can be a real challenge. Send her a powerful pick-me-up in the form of a therapeutic blend of royal jelly, bee pollen, propolis and raw honey. It makes the ideal companion for tea, smoothies, yogurt or even on its on.

$17

Calming midnight mask with melatonin

Who doesn't deserve a reminder to pamper themself every once in awhile? Even better, this mask does all its work at night while you're sleeping with no extra effort needed. It's an amazing plant-powered antioxidant-packed mask that has melatonin, wild dandelion leaf and hyaluronic acid to rehydrate, repair and reset facial skin. It's so good, you might want to gift it to yourself. We won't tell, mama.

$68

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