To Run or Not to Run: First Trimester Butterflies

bun in the oven
Yep! I’ve got one of these! (Photo credit: chippenziedeutch)

The past 13 weeks have been markedly out-of-character for me. I’ve been sleeping a lot and skimping on the running.  I’ve been taking long, drawn-out, three-hour naps (whenever I can and wishing I could be whenever I can’t). I’ve eaten more Kentucky Fried Chicken mashed potatoes with extra salt and drank more V-8 juice than I ever thought possible. I haven’t made it through a single night’s sleep without having to get up and pee at least two times. I gag when I brush my teeth, I dry heave at the smell of my hubby’s cologne, and cleaning the bathrooms and kitty litter have become off limits. I’ve been moody and my boobs have grown about 2 cup sizes (you think I’m kidding!?!), making my current stock of sports bras out-of-commission.

We’ve finally made it “Facebook Official” and I thought it was about time to share the news with those out in Salty Land. Baby Ginkgo is due July 9, 2014!

English: A small plate with a serving of mashe...
My go-to food: KFC mashed potatoes. Who would have thought? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think I’ve read Salty’s first trimester post about 50 times (our pregnancy and running guru), trying to calm my nerves about continuing running during my pregnancy, namely during the sensitive first trimester. In my research and through personal conversations with my mid-wife, I’ve found that running throughout weeks 4-13, as long as the momma-to-be has the energy and no bleeding, unusual cramping, etc., it’s completely fine and actually encouraged since it may directly benefit the developing babe.

With my past eating disorder (ED) issues, I’ve been viewing this pregnancy as a mega-miracle and have been doing everything in my power to completely kick ED thoughts and habits to the curb to produce the best life for this baby. I don’t want to overdo it with the running and I know the importance of nutrition is magnified everyday.

I think my past has added the extra worries to my first trimester, so I’ve only been comfortable running about 2-3 miles maximum per day, supplemented with walks, yoga, and prenatal pilates. When it comes down to it, each of us is different and it’s important to do what feels right. While one momma-to-be might be able to continue at her 50-mile weeks along with interval track work-outs and some racing without a glitch, that just wasn’t for me, at least not during the first trimester.

Here I am at 14 weeks. I'll try to post updated belly pics (which I think will be good for my modesty and ability to embrace change).
Here I am at 14 weeks. I’ll try to post updated belly pics (which I think will be good for my modesty and ability to embrace change).

They say energy tends to make a reappearance around 13-14 weeks. I just entered the second trimester (hurray!), but I’m still waiting. But, what’s a little fatigue when this means a healthy baby is in our near future? Last week, I was able to see the 3-inch, size of a peach, fetus sucking on it’s newly formed thumb and doing some can-can kicks in an ultrasound. WOW. After 13 weeks, the likelihood of a miscarriage dramatically decreases. I’d like to think my first baby, first trimester butterflies will decrease along with it.

For those of you who might be tentative about running during those first 13 weeks in fear of overdoing it or “causing” a miscarriage, which is highly unlikely as most are due to chromosomal abnormalities, here are some helpful tips to quiet all that extra noise that may be occurring in your newly established pregnancy brain:

1. Talk to your individual doctor or mid-wife. Each scenario is different, so don’t just do what your friend or favorite blogger did.

2. Keep running but don’t feel like you have to keep racing. Racing actually isn’t recommended, nor are intense speed work-outs (for most). If you can’t carry on a conversation during your run, you’re probably pushing too hard. Everyone is different though, so as long as you’re in touch with your practitioner and feeling good without overdoing it, you might be just fine continuing on in this path. Personally, just the thought of a track work-out during my first trimester had me puking.

3. Know when to call it quits. If you’re cramping or having back pain, don’t feel guilty for stopping, now more than ever.

4. Consider your options. If running isn’t agreeing with your body, try a prenatal yoga class, swimming, or walking.

5. Dress comfortably. I’ve put away my spandex shorts and tops that bare my midriff for the time being. After all, I can bust them back out once I’m a hot mom, right?

6. Eat well. If you can’t keep down all the veggies and fruits during the first trimester, just at least eat something that you can keep down. In my case, bland mashed potatoes (particularly of the KFC brand, yuck!). Grilled cheese and saltines have been other staples, with a side of ginger ale.

7. Go easy on yourself. Your hormones are working overtime. Your body is changing every, single day. If that’s not enough, you don’t need to be down on yourself for not being able to achieve your once 7-minute pace.

If you’ve been pregnant did you have first trimester butterflies? How did you cope? Did you continue running? 


✰ For more on running during the first trimester, check out What to Expect from Running When You’re Expecting: 1st Trimester.

I'm a new momma, full-time non-profiter, and coffee lover. I write about healthy body image, half marathon training, and recovery from eating disorders. I'm currently training to maintain fitness throughout the winter and break 1:27:00 in my next half marathon.

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  1. Congrats!! I am 23 weeks with twins. It’s so strange when you start to get bigger…and there is a point when others may think you have gained weight and it didn’t occur to them that you might be growing something in there. But then you get to enjoy the ooh’s and aah’s of “oh! you’re pregnant!” I am finding it SO hard to not sign up for my first post-babies half marathon but I’m going to get back to running as soon as I feel up for it!
    There are a ton of options for working out, and while I stopped running immediately after I found out it was twins (by choice, not by doctor’s orders), I get on the elliptical or walk on the treadmill most nights of the week. Prenatal yoga, once a week, I am finding is enjoyable challenging and a mini support group. And I take a prenatal workout class called Fit4Baby (run by Stroller Strides). So there a lots of options, and if your body isn’t telling you to stop, I say keep going as long as you can!
    Congrats again.

    1. Hi Suzanne! OMG-twins?! How exciting. You are way more than halfway there; I really don’t like how my whole life, I’ve thought pregnancy was 9 months but, in reality, it’s 10 months…eeek! I am at that awkward point right now where I am larger than pre-pregnancy but my belly hasn’t exactly “popped” to signify pregnancy. I don’t know if you went through this but I notice some people kind of give me the “body check” each day they see me…I just kind of giggle in my head (it might also be me being overly sensitive). In any case, I’ve been pretty solid in embracing the changes, so I have to say I haven’t been overly bothered.

      I’ve done a few elliptical days and find myself walking our weimareiner after work to get in a little extra exercise since my running has been so limited. None of it is overboard and so far, so good. I’m taking my first official prenatal class tomorrow and am excited to meet some other preggos! I’ve just been doing blu-ray versions thus far. Like you said, I’m already thinking about what half marathon will be my first after the babe is born – but I know it’s a day-by-day process and I shouldn’t assume I’ll be ready just a few months after (it’s really hard to resist the temptation though)!

      GOOD LUCK TO YOU! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Congrats girl, you look amazing and so proud of all ur success! Your such an inspiration to all and can’t wait to continue reading about your pregnancy 😉

  3. Congratulations! Mid midwife was also in favor of my continuing to run. I had a hard hard time during the first trimester since I was feeling awful all the time, after about 13 weeks I was almost feeling back to normal. I’m at about 17 weeks now, and I’m still running less than pre-pregnancy but for the most part I’m almost able to run at my pre-pregnancy pace and incorporate some other good workouts as well. And with my midwife’s blessing, I’m training for a half marathon around 25 weeks! I feel confident that my active lifestyle is helping me to develop the happiest, healthiest little one possible!

    1. So awesome that you’ve been feeling back to yourself and able to set your eyes on that half! You never know…maybe you’ve inspired me to host a similar conversation with my midwife at the next appointment if I continue to feel better. Best of luck to you,

  4. Congratulation!! Wonderful news! I was a cyclist when pregnant and cycled for fun right up to 40 weeks so it’s a good alternative if you choose to stop running!!

  5. Congrats! I’m in my second trimester and ran through my first (and am still running). I definitely found that I had to slow down and my energy was awful. Still is and I’m well into my second trimester at this point, so I’m hoping it gets better soon. I ran a few races in my first trimester, but they were all slower than they would have been if I hadn’t been pregnant.
    I found that my speed immediately took a nosedive. Plus, as you said, racing (really racing) isn’t the best thing, so most of those races were more like moderate runs.

    I’m running a half marathon tomorrow (eeek!), but I plan to take it extremely easy at a conversational pace. It’s going to be my slowest half ever, I’m sure, but I’m glad to still be out there running!

    Looking forward to your updates!

  6. Congratulations! Very very exciting for you. I wasn’t running when I had my boys (I biked, swam, and did a ton of walking), but have huge admiration for those who balance endurance sports and pregnancy in a healthy way. Enjoy the journey!

    Have you by chance run across Sea Legs Girl’s blog? She is a doctor and fast ultramarathoner (who may have a history of an eating disorder) who blogged about running during two pregnancies and has reviewed the scientific literature on the subject. She would probably be excited to hear from you.

  7. Congratulations!!! I’m so excited to have found your blog. I’m knocked up (8+ weeks) with #3 and I’m also a bit elderly as far as pregnancy goes. And oh boy is this pregnancy different. I feel so completely exhausted that 3 miles at 9+ minutes per mile requires a (long) nap!!! I had some spotting last week after running so took a few days off and everything is completely fine. I’m nauseous, but running seems to help that. I didn’t run at all with my last pregnancies because my Dr. Told me not to (10 years ago). That just won’t do for me this time although I’m drastically modifying my expectations. Looking forward to hearing about your journey and looking forward to 13 weeks!!!

  8. This has been really helpful. I am at 4 weeks and feel fine so far but worried about dropping down from my current 35 mile average week and racing. had to pull out of a 10 mile race at weekend and didn’t want to but probally was best but its hard to give up a hobby so I am just going to stick with it and not commit to any races over the next few weeks if I feel like going I will go!