Jan 20, 2013

Exercising After A C-Section

exercising after a c-section
Before I get started I just want to reinforce that I am not a medical professional, I am just sharing my experiences about exercising after a c-section.  It is also important to understand that everyone's experience will be individual. I have had two C-sections and the pain, the recovery, and the time it took for me to be able to exercise again were completely different for each of the two surgeries.  It is always helpful to read about other peoples experiences, but your body and your doctor will be the most important guides for when and how you will begin exercising again.

Before you begin any strenuous exercise program it is extremely important to get permission from your doctor (or healthcare professional).  A C-section, although incredibly common these days, is still major abdominal surgery. The general rule is that you will have a check-up that will occur 6-8 weeks after the birth of your child. It is important not to undertake any strenuous exercise before this check up.

If you were previously very active and you have had an excellent recovery I know that 6 weeks can feel like a very long time -  after my son was born I was out of bed and moving easily the next day.   4 weeks later I felt as if I could have run a marathon and I was busting to get the okay to start strenuous exercise again.  With my daughter 2 years later, I had the same doctor at the same hospital. My recovery was completely different.   I was still in quite a bit of pain weeks later and couldn't even consider doing any strenuous exercise.  It gave me a new respect for the trauma our body actually endures up with a C-section and it reinforced just how important it is to wait for that check up.

After having a baby it's very important to be mindful of your core muscles.  Your core strength will be very different than what it was pre-pregnancy.  If you rush back into strenuous exercise without strengthening your core first, you could injure your back.  I found I was having a lot of lower back pain just a few days after HJ was born with all the new bending and lifting.  A few weeks after my son was born I began walking with the stroller.  I was quickly able to build up to long walks at a fast pace.  I also began 'Mums & Bubs' Pilates which did wonders for my core strength and my back pain. . The results really were amazing and I learned how important it is to activate and work on your deep core muscles, especially the Transverse Abdominis muscle.  You can activate and strengthen your TA while walking - or even doing daily activities.   If you can't get to a Pilates course (or similar) - there are some good videos on You-Tube that show you how to activate and strengthen your TA, just make sure they are from a reputable source.  Walking and core-strengthening, (and my wonderful recovery with HJ) had me playing Indoor Soccer when HJ was approx. 6 weeks old - which was as soon as my OB/GYN gave me the all-clear.

As I mentioned earlier, with my daughter, my recovery was a lot more difficult and it took me a lot longer to be able to walk aerobically and push the stroller.  I think it was approximately 3 months before I went for my first run, and having two young children I wasn't able to get to an actual Pilates class.  Once again, I wanted to strengthen my core, flatten my stomach and get fit but this time around I had also put on 10kgs (22 lbs) that I wanted to lose as well.  I bought a double stroller and made sure I was either going on long walks or running at least a few times a week. By doing this I lost 7kgs in 3 months. For my core strength I tried to do some of the exercises that I remembered from my previous Pilates class.
 
So this was how I did it, how I got active after my gorgeous bubs were born.  Walking, running and Pilates were a very good foundation for any further fitness or sporting activities that I wanted to do.   If you want to begin exercising again and are looking for somewhere to start, I can recommend these three things.  Just make sure you and your body are ready.  Those early months with a new baby can be busy and strenuous.  You will know when its time to get active.  When its time - this is a great place to start.