Many reasons behind why it is completely OK to run while being pregnant

Every other day you would come across ton loads of material regarding do’s and don’ts while being pregnant (we have our set of the same here). However, you would be surprised to know how many athletes continue training even after being pregnant. The International Olympic Committee has recently commissioned a report that blasts the myths regarding risks associated with it!

Norwegian long-distance runner Ingrid Kristiansen at World Cross Country Championship

Ingrid Kristiansen had just won the Houston marathon and clocked two hours 35 minutes and the fact that she was last in the first lap baffled many, including her coach and fellow Norwegians. She was feeling tired, which was blamed on jet lag her recent trips to the US. Even then she was among the favorites to win the race.

“The first lap I was the last of the Norwegians, and my coach didn’t understand anything,” she says while recalling. Though she was well ahead of her compatriots, she finished at dismal 35th.

“My coach’s wife was sitting, looking at the television. And she called her husband afterwards, and she asked him, ‘Is Ingrid pregnant?’

“I think it was the way I was running. Maybe I was a little bit heavier in the upper body, I’m not sure. But she saw it.”

“Her pregnancy was confirmed soon after and it came to her as a surprise.”

Irregular menstrual cycles are common among female athletes, thus they may get pregnant without knowing about it. We have witnessed as many as 17 pregnant athletes competing at the biggest athletic event.

The Malaysian sports shooter Nur Suryani Taini was visibly pregnant at eight months when she participated at the 2012 London Olympics. Nur holding her rifle with her outgrown belly providing an excellent backdrop happened to be one of the most memorable images from the 2012 Olympic Games.

Whether and how safe is it to practice and take part in intense competitions while being pregnant? In order to find out the answer, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) summoned a panel of experts and asked them to prepare a report regarding the same.

The study

This massive study is published here in five parts in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Despite the sheer size and complexity of the report, the lead author has a simple message to offer.

“There are only a few high-quality studies into pregnancy among elite athletes or those who exercise a great deal, but it seems that many do continue to exercise during pregnancy, and it does not affect them in a negative way,” says Prof Kari Bo from the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences. “It doesn’t seem to harm either the foetus or the mother.”

An important point to stress here is that pregnant women have been advised against heavy exercise. It is thought to interfere in a woman’s ability to reproduce. However, the advice is unscientific at best and sexist, given that it has more to do with gender roles, rather than the well being of the baby or the mother.

Exercise does increase the need for oxygen, nutrients and blood flow in the body, which is in direct conflict with the requirements of the fetus. Hence, the latter may lose out in the competition for the resources with the mother’s body!

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