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Running to the finishing line: labor and after life

By Eszter Csillag

This is the last part of a series of articles focusing on issues related to female runners who are mothers, or pregnant but still keep moving along the trails.

Special thanks to Jenna Chow, who helped to translate and edit this article. Enjoy!

Giving birth is the last piece of the puzzle in pregnancy. Of course, every minute counts during labor just as every day counts for that 39 weeks of pregnancy. But you have already come so far. This fact has given you faith and courage even though you cannot predict if things will happen exactly as you wished for.

For the past 39 weeks, I was running like a blind runner in the sense that I couldn’t see what was happening inside the womb. Each and every trimester – first, second, and third – has its own risk factors to take into account when I decided to continue running. Each day when I put on my running shoes, there was always the same question, ‘is it good for me and my baby?’. As discussed in my previous articles, more scientific research would help guiding pregnant runners more objectively. Yet, for the time being what I could do as a female trail runner was to listen to my body. I knew that my body has been trained well before pregnancy and I could possibly continue running under the changed and restricted circumstances.

Certainly, the easiest thing to do is to stop. Don’t run because people tell you that it is insane; don’t run because you had a bad day; don’t run because you wanted to keep records less ‘complicated’ between you and your doctor and trainer. Listening to these voices would undoubtedly protect me from ANY risk factor. However, it is not without a dark side. I knew the decision of not running at all would cast shadow on my health, mood and general fitness throughout the pregnancy.

I am not born and raised in Hong Kong, so often I was told I that can run during pregnancy because I am a ‘Gweipor’ (Cantonese slang for foreign woman) whose culture allows more freedom. Yet, this is not the truth. As far as I know, there is no culture, not even one in the West which promotes activity during pregnancy, not to say running on trails where one can slip easily. Female runners share the same heritage and past. However, I believe, “how pregnancy should be” is slowly evolving.

The way of transforming pregnancy experiences by trail runners is to listen to our body. However, this is not as easy as it sounds. Indeed, there were times I went running with great discomfort due to the urge of frequent urination or sore muscles. I did not always know if these were signs to stop running at all or it just happened because I did not sleep or eat well or these were just normal inevitable symptoms of pregnancy.

You might wonder why I still kept running with such uncertainty. I think it is because I have learned that trail running, even in normal circumstances is about accepting and living with discomfort. If after the check-up, my OB said the placenta is big enough meaning the baby has enough space while I am running, I knew that a bad day on the trail was about something else. The run was safe. I knew that the fact that I kept running throughout the nine months helped the embryo to get used to the movements occurring during running. I have incorporated the knowledge from the third-party and my self-knowledge about my body to make such a decision.

When writing this article, I had already crossed the finishing line. My daughter, Noemi was born on 16 April and she is as healthy and beautiful as any newborn can be. Certainly, I could not ask for more.

My journey as a pregnant runner has ended. Yet, running and motherhood is a never-ending, on-going journey. The cherry on the cake is the period after birth. A new period with its own questions: when can I exercise again? When it is safe to run again? Is it safe to push myself, if yes for how long? I have been wondering what is better to my mental and physical health, going back to exercise early or resting longer. But this is a next chapter, for now I am happy that it went all well.

I would like to finish this series with the following list of articles I have found useful during my journey as a pregnant runner. It is not comprehensive, but it will be my pleasure if this could help out female trail runners who are interested in this topic. It was great to encounter and receive messages from various mothers and pregnant trail runners during these months. Together we can support each other, by sharing our stories we can connect and help which is why ATG has been such a great platform.

Articles for your information:

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