Mum-to-be plans half-marathon 22 weeks pregnant

Marion Laverty. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Marion Laverty. Picture: Ian Rutherford

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A MUM-TO-BE will don her running shoes and embark on the Edinburgh half-marathon – while 22 weeks pregnant.

Marion Laverty had been training for the May 25 run before she discovered she was expecting her second child.

And despite some beliefs that pregnant women should put their feet up, she has the full backing of her midwife and doctor.

“Obviously it will be more of a slow jog for me – it’s all about listening to your body and not pushing yourself too far,” said the Granton woman, 35.

Ms Laverty is being gentle with her training – fitting in short jogs and light aerobics in between working for a website and taking her three-year-old son, Sebastian, to nursery. She is aiming to finish in three hours and 15 minutes, having previously completed several half-marathons with an hour off that time.

Ms Laverty said her challenge has prompted a mixed reaction, but her family, including fiancé Kevin Glover, have been very supportive. She said: “I’m doing a bit of research surrounding exercise in pregnancy. It’s OK to exercise moderately if that’s what you have done before, that’s the consensus.

“There are a lot of people I have met that seem to come from the time when they said, ‘put your feet up’.”

She added: “I’m not advocating that every pregnant woman does it, but if it’s something that you have always done, research will tell you that you are capable. I have just had my midwife check-up and she was asking about my training and checking my blood pressure. I have another two check-ups before the race, but she said as long as things continue as they are, there’s no qualms.”

She said she is making sure she eats plenty of protein as well as taking her pregnancy supplements.

Strenuous exercise during pregnancy recently hit the headlines, after Colorado bodybuilder Lea-Ann Ellison, who was eight months pregnant, posted an online photo of her lifting heavy weights.

Gillian Smith, director of the Royal College of Midwives in Scotland, said Ms Laverty’s run should not be a concern as she is used to exercise.

She said: “She will be 22 weeks pregnant – so it shouldn’t be any great difficulty for her. If she has already signed up for it, it would be a shame not to continue. It would be different if she was a bit further on and the baby was heavier. Bodies are individual things. What’s right for one might not be right for another. But she will know her body.”

She said perceptions of pregnancy has changed vastly over the past few generations. “People thought they were ill when they were pregnant. Now we just get on with it,” she added.

Pregnant women who want to carry on jogging are advised to drink lots of water as – according to babycenter.com – “dehydration can decrease blood flow to the uterus and may even cause premature contractions”.

Running shoes that support the ankles and arches and a good sports bra are advised as is running on even surfaces, not tracks, as bumps can cause balance problems.

Above all, pregnant women who hit the running track are advised to enjoy it – as exercise will be beneficial for baby too. This philosophy is guiding Marion, who added: “I am not going to be setting any records, but it’s a personal challenge that I really want to do.”

Keep it gentle

Mums-to-be are advised to continue to exercise if they were doing so before they got pregnant – and even those who are less active are encouraged to take up gentle activities such as swimming.

Justine Roberts, who founded online forum Mumsnet, said: “If you were fit and active before becoming pregnant, it’s not necessarily unsafe to carry on. In fact, keeping fit is going to help you have a healthier pregnancy and birth.

“That said, a top tip from Mumsnet is don’t overdo it. It won’t be easy to run once you start getting bigger, but other activities – like yoga, swimming or walking – and exercises classes which are tailored for pregnancy, can help to keep you in good shape.”