Returning to Running after Baby


Running is a wonderful activity for parents because it can be done anywhere, anytime, in all seasons, and with very little equipment.  It is a time-efficient way to squeeze in cardio during this busy time of life and many parents find it freeing to be able to exercise at a time and place that works for their family schedule. With the right gear, it’s also an activity you may choose to do with baby in tow, once they are old enough.

However, many new parents have questions and hesitations about starting or getting back into running after baby. Problems and set-backs may occur with jumping back in too quickly. It’s important to consider if you are physically, mentally and emotionally ready to run before you start.

Here are some things to consider before tying up your laces:

  1. Pelvic floor readiness.        
    • Whether you gave birth vaginally or had a caesarean section, symptoms such as leaking, heaviness, and pain should be resolved and you should be at least 3 months postpartum before starting a running program.  Build up with walking and other moderate exercise modes and work towards impact exercise. Enlist the help of a pre/postnatal physiotherapist if you have lingering symptoms or just want to stay on top of it. Resource list


  1. Jogging stroller.
    • Jog with a stroller designed for running. Features to look are:  3 large wheels, ability to lock the front wheel when running, 5-point harness, adjustable or well positioned handle for your height, and a large canopy for weather. Note that most jogging strollers are designed for babies 6 months and up. See more tips from Healthy Parenting Winnipeg


  1. Breast health and comfort.
  • Look for a well-fitting and supportive sports bra that fits your current shape and size. If you are breastfeeding, a special nursing sports bar is ideal in case you need to feed baby on the go. Professional fitting is recommended for best results.  (note Fit Together participants get a 15% discount on the highly-rated Cake Lingerie “Zest” nursing sport bra and other items at Ce Soir Lingerie).
    • Running can trigger the letdown reflect, so your bladder isn’t the only thing you need to worry about leaking. If you are nursing, try to do so before going for a run for increased comfort. Some people use breast pads to help to absorb leakage.
    • Make sure to remove your sports bra and any breast pads ASAP after your run to avoid causing blocked milk ducts that could lead to mastitis, or simply being cold and uncomfortable.


  1. New post-pregnancy footwear.
    • The runners you used during pregnancy may have taken more wear.  Hormonal changes coupled with natural pregnancy weight gain may cause your feet to flatten and widen. If your old shoes don’t fit like they used to, seek out a speciality store to fit you with proper footwear. Good shoes are the most important investment you can make as a runner – they will cushion the impact on your joints when running and make sure you are able to run longer and without injury. (Fit Together participants get 15% discount on shoes and gear at locally owned City Park Runners)


  1. Incorporate strength training.       
    • As new parents, we spend the majority of our days hunched over feeding or picking up baby. This increased forward flexion and rounding of the shoulders can weaken the core and lead to neck and back problems.  Strength training will help correct posture and body alignment issues that may come from carrying and caring for a tiny human. 


  1. Choose smooth surfaces to start.
    • Your body and its movement patterns should and likely will feel different with activity compared to pre-pregnancy. Choosing either a smooth cushioned track/ grassy area if running solo, or smooth, flat pavement when running with your stroller to start will help reduce aches and pains and prevent injuries.



  1. Run with a shortened stride while pushing stroller.
    • Focus on shortening your stride to maintain a normal gait while running with the stroller and swinging your arms as much as possible. Essentially, swinging your arms helps stabilize the entire body while running. We get that you want to hold on tight to that precious cargo you’re pushing, but the natural force your legs create while catching and pushing off from the ground causes your body to twist through your hips and core, and swinging your arms opposite to your legs will help counteract these forces.
  2. Drink water before, during and after your run.
    • Whether you breastfeeding or not, it’s a good idea to hydrate on days you run. Running, and producing milk makes you extra thirsty, and the “glass half full” of running with the stroller is that helpful cup holder, so use it! Make sure you are well hydrated before heading out for a run, and always have a water bottle with you. I rule of thumb is to drink one glass of water every time you feed baby, and 2-3 glasses are encouraged post exercise. Basically, you need three times the water intake of your pre-baby self.


  1. Allow yourself to ease in slowly.
    • Know that it is possible to be mentally ready to resume running before our bodies can physically handle it.
    • It’s more challenging to run with a stroller than without. Pace yourself.
    • It’s important to increase your mileage slowly and incorporate cross-training in your weekly plan.
    • It might take longer than you think to get back to running.  Most research suggests up to a year is normal, which is why it is imperative to listen to your body and back off when it tells you it needs rest. So sleep as much as you can (we know, it’s hard to do!) and remember that when you get to 20 miles a week your body requires at least 20 extra minutes a night to repair. Something to sleep on.

Remember, you are running your own race, so give yourself the grace and permission to ease back in to running. It’s sometimes hard to pace yourself but we promise you, it will be worth it. You are worth it. And it will be 100% worth it when you can beat your kids at tag every damn time!


Hope to see you out there!


Darla & Aileen, Fit Together instructors