Since having our second daughter I’ve been a little MIA and have slowly been getting back into the swing of things on the fitness front. Having a cesarean birth really put a kink in a lot of my plans and well, life in general. I mean I knew a cesarean was surgery, but didn’t realize how major it was. I had surgery once before and was back at work a week later because it was laparoscopic. As another blogger put it, “a cesarean is like being gutted”. If you’ve never looked it up, you should because it’s a pretty intense surgery.
So having a major surgery to deliver a baby made me take a step back, a big one, that I’m not used to doing. I’m always a go, go, go person who is pretty self sufficient. Not even being able to vacuum my house for a month or drive a car for 2 weeks drove me crazy! Being that my first child was born in the “normal” way, it was a huge difference having a cesarean. Any woman who tells you it’s not that bad, either took a bunch of medication or had live in help beyond their significant other. Both are totally fine if it works for you, but that’s not me.
Here is what I learned about my fitness journey after having a cesarean:
1) There is NO right time to get back into your fitness routine. This is probably the number one thing any woman into fitness asks about after having their baby. I knew after having my normal birth that I was good to go after 4 weeks and pretty much could do everything except ride a bike for while. Hello level 2 tear. I was curious so I asked around to some fellow running moms about their running & exercise post c-section. The answers varied, but a lot of women said just don’t do it. Yea, that part about them pulling your bladder out of the way during a cesarean really affects things since your pelvic floor is already weak from carrying a baby so I didn’t want to cause myself incontinence problems for the rest of my life.
I’ve also been asked by several moms about my postpartum fitness since I got the all clear at my 4 week checkup again to resume working out. Yes, you read that right. Four weeks after my c-section I got the okay to resume all activities including exercise. This is the part that makes pretty much every woman mad and shouldn’t, but I heard so many women complain about their doctor’s advice. Here’s the thing though, as long as you’re incision is healing fine and you have no bleeding, they don’t know exactly how your body feels or how your insides are healed. Yes they push around and can have a good idea, but every one is different and heals differently. Only you know what hurts and how bad it feels to know if you should or should not be doing something. Listen to your body.
2) Take things SLOW. This pretty much goes hand in hand with #1. Once you feel comfortable exercising, you need to take it slow. I was tired to start off between my 2 year old and a newborn and no sleep. Also, with my body healing from major surgery that was a third blow to my sleeping abilities. I couldn’t sleep in a bed for a couple weeks, so the little sleep I did get just sucked. I started walking occasionally and doing simple push up and squat challenges hoping to get back into the swing of it. Nope, that didn’t happen. I signed up to run a marathon as a relay team with some friends next. Three months to the day, I ran 6.3 miles as my leg of the relay. I decided to focus on run/walk intervals and not really worry about my time. The first couple miles were pretty decent, and then halfway through it I slowed down and had to walk more. I was then sore for the next two days around my incision site. Lesson learned. Do what you can because your body will tell you when you’re pushing too much, and don’t forget that it takes close to a year to be completely healed from having a cesarean. My swelling finally went down around 5 months postpartum.
3) Accept that it will take time to get back to where you were before. This is my daily struggle. Mainly just with running. I feel good with my cross training workouts and have pretty good upper body strength, but my running just sucks! Some ladies are able to come back after a c-section and run their pace or distance within the first few months, but for most that just isn’t the case. At 8 months out now, I still feel so out of shape when it comes to running and I ran a back to back half marathon and 10K at 27 weeks pregnant. I’m sure it probably doesn’t help that I’m running in the middle of one of the hottest and most humid summers we’ve had in a long time. All the running guidelines say not to run with the weather in my area, but I have to get used to it. It’s one of the hardest things for me to accept that I’ve got a ways to go to get back to where I was, but I’m trucking along just knowing that I got there once and I can get there again. And be even better!!!
4) Fitness friends are some of the best things for you & even better if they’re female and know what you are going through. I’m fortunate that I either knew some friends or met some friends before my second pregnancy that are pretty into being healthy and exercising. Exercise is not only great for your body physically, but in my opinion there is no drug better for you mentally. I don’t tend to discuss things while I’m in the depths of them with people, but after the fact I can talk to anyone about them. So to any of my friends that have run or worked out with me since having my baby: THANK YOU!!
Everyone knows that after having a baby you go through a huge hormonal change that causes mood swings, but this time I suffered from postpartum depression. Let me tell you it is not fun, so if you know anyone who has had a baby recently, you need to make sure you respect that you may not know what they are going through. I didn’t want to do anything even though I knew it would help me feel better. That’s part of why I signed up with my friends to run the marathon relay. I figured it would help give me a kick start to get back into running, but it didn’t do anything for me. I continued with the random work out and my husband would walk with me when he could, but it wasn’t enough. My friend started meeting me when she could to do at home workouts and I had another friend who kept pushing me to meet her to run. I kept making excuses not to meet her. Finally about 2 month ago, I got back into the swing of things. I started to consistently meet my friend weekly to run and about a month ago, I started doing workout videos almost 6 days a week. I can now say I’m back to normal. While it’s hard to “make the time” to workout, I think it’s vital to be selfish and have that me time to focus on yourself. Now to make those 5 am wake up calls for running a regular thing. Wish me luck!
5) You are awesome! There’s not much more to say. Whether you’re walking or running a 7 minute mile or lifting or doing yoga, you are awesome just for fitting that in to the hectic life that you now have with a baby. You’ll only exude that awesomeness even more with your progress from working out!
Enjoy Your Adventure,
FTC Disclosure: This is not in any way medical advice, but my own experience. Please consult your medical professional for any medical advice.