Prenatal exercise may be an essential component of a healthy pregnancy, but not every workout is safe while you are expecting a baby. What is the deal with running during pregnancy? How do you keep your baby and yourself safe while practicing your favorite sport?

Who can run during pregnancy?

Most doctors agree that pregnant women who regularly went running before they conceived can continue doing so. Women who are totally new to running shouldn’t start during pregnancy. Your joints are looser to enable your body to keep up with all the changes that come with the pregnancy territory, and there is no way of telling how your body would react to the stress of running. Experienced runners should be careful, too, and make sure not to overdo things. Listen to your body, take frequent breaks, and slow down if you need to.

Avoiding common mistakes

Running during pregnancy definitely introduces some challenges you didn’t face before. Don’t let common pregnancy signs like morning sickness deter you — you could actually feel a lot better once you get out and run. But do stop when you are tired or out of breath, and make sure not to go too fast. You may actually end up diverting oxygen from your baby if you use too much energy. Running on rough terrain also poses a risk of tripping and falling as your body gets bigger and your center of gravity shifts. To be on the safe side, pregnant women could run on smooth paths, or consider using a treadmill. Talk to your OBGYN about mileage and any adjustments you should make to your usual workout regime.

Don’t sweat it if you can’t keep up

Even the fittest runners may have trouble toward the end of pregnancy, and may slowly waddle down the street instead of enjoying a jog. Don’t feel bad about that if (when!) that happens to you, and try walking, swimming, and perhaps cycling instead. Your pregnancy will be over soon, and then you can slowly build your activities up again. You are at a huge advantage when it comes to postpartum recovery if you were active during your whole pregnancy, so be proud of yourself!

Tania is a nutritionist and personal trainer. She writes about fertility, pregnancy and beyond at Trying To Conceive.