Running and Pregnancy Q & A: Part 1

See this post for the intro.

Q. Did you have any problems getting pregnant? I've heard lots of runners do.

Short answer - yes. Amenorrhea caused by low oestrogen and therefore not having ovulated in around 10 years meant I went on a series of courses of progesterone tablets (unsuccessful) and then eventually after a few years of referrals and badgering people,  Clomifene (which forces ovulation) combined with “follicle tracking” where they track the development of the follicle into an egg (assuming it does) and tell you the day to ... er ....get pregnant. We were VERY thankful (and surprised) that this worked first time!

Harrow Half marathon at 17 weeks pregnant

Harrow Half marathon at 17 weeks pregnant


Full explanation follows... skip the italic bit if you don't want the full details.
This is a rather personal one  but it affects everything else and my running even before pregnancy so, better to get it out in the open.

I've had amenorrhea for some time. In all honesty it was most likely caused too much weightloss too fast (and a stressful work situation maybe) many years ago and then that low BMI being maintained, though my periods were never the most regular before that anyway. But yeah, I was definitely too light for some time and that was before I started running. I did go to a doctor at this point and they suggested a high GI diet and checked for things like polycycstic ovaries, but when all that came back clear nothing more happened.  They didn’t seem particularly bothered and let’s face it, periods are a pain so didn’t pursue it. So, running wasn’t the cause  but I guess it did cause the situation to continue. 

Mr B and I are lucky that whilst we’d talked about having children, it was never a seriously painful issue for us. We had lots of friends who have kids and we could dip in and out which was quite nice. BUT, we realised we needed to get this addressed before it became a bigger issue. By this point I’d not had an unforced (by contraception) period for many years already. After blood tests and other tests my excellent GP (whose brother is a pro cyclist) ruled out more serious medical issues and suggested that hormone levels were the issue.   The first port of call was weight gain. I was properly running by this point so while I did try to eat more it was a) hard to keep up and b) I was probably holding back because I liked how things were. Things got a bit better but no results so they then put me on a 'Progesterone challenge' (I love a challenge!). This is where you take a hormone tablet to give you a forced period in the hope that they will the naturally resume afterwards. We had several of these sessions over a few years as I gained more weight but each time it didn't have the desired effect despite the fact that by the end of that phase I was well inside the 'healthy weight' range and much more committed.  Unhelpfully, the gynae people I was seeing by this point kept just telling me to “eat more pies and cake” (actually said that)  and “can’t you just stop running?” Instead of giving me sustainable guidance. Hey ho! Anyway, I’d also spoken to my coach about it all by now and I think that helped me take it more seriously too. Eventually, because I was a healthy BMI (though they wanted more) and following the advice of a friend who had had the treatment I badgered the gynae into letting me try something called Clomifene, which forces your body to think it hasn’t had the hormone surge required for ovulation so that it basically doubles up on itself (I think this is right!) and is VERY likely to do at least the initial stages of creating an egg. We did this and they tracked the progress. Happily an egg was created and we, er, followed instructions  and incredibly, praise God,, that single egg in about 10 years is now the little man who has been snoring, face planted on my chest as I type this.

Q. What does it feel like running when pregnant?
Less bouncy than I expected. To start with I just noticed that my gait was different. Interestingly, the physio who treated my piriformis issue said that I was running with a much better, straighter stride! Later my feet started to ache more as the weight went on.
Once I started hitting bowling-ball stage I was surprised how well the muscles hold everything in place. It never felt like things were moving around. 
Some people experience Pelvic Girdle pain but I only had pelvic pain after running and then sitting about about week 23, at which point I cut my mileage in half (40 - 20miles) and it was ok.

Mini bump

Mini bump

Q. Can you feel the baby kick while running?
I never felt this, in fact he was most chilled out just after a run, not in a worrying way, just in a way that he felt less jumpy!

Q. Were you worried about harming the baby?
Yes. I was very conscious that whilst training on my own, any rash decisions affected not  just my body. Now I had the possibility of affecting another human’s well being. Terrifying. However, I also knew there were benefits to staying active for both mum and baby and that and research says that if you’ve been doing it before then it’s ok. I did tell my midwife at my very first appointment and she said it was fine (though I’m not sure she’d been asked before) as long as everything kept being normal with the pregnancy. I also asked Mr B if he was ok with it.. ok maybe I told him I intended to.. but I did give him power of veto so that if at any point he felt I was being irresponsible then I wouldn’t do it - since it was OUR baby.  One example of this was cross-country. I would have given it a whirl but Mr B wisely pointed out that unstable surfaces, spikes, sharp elbows and dirt might not be wise.

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