Returning to Exercise Post C Section - The First Few Weeks
When I left hospital 3 days after Chiara was born, I walked the furthest I had done since the day before delivery. I walked out of the hospital, across the car park, and from the car to house when I got home.
It might not sound like much, but after major abdominal surgery and virtually no sleep in the days immediately afterwards, this small amount of movement was exhausting.
I walked into the front door, sat on the sofa and stayed there for the next few hours.
Lying down was hard work - especially the getting back up again. I have never felt the pull of gravity as much on my body as in those first days after a c section!
As well as this I had a terrible ache in my left lower back. I think it is because Chiara lay on my right side for the entirety of pregnancy. I continued to be very active throughout pregnancy, but the result meant I was quite lopsided after she was born.
The ache in my back was, in some ways, more debilitating than the c section wound. I struggled to walk because of it and climbing the stairs (literally on hands and knees) felt like scaling a mountain every day - felt strange remembering back to lockdown days when I was running up and down them hundreds of times a day to try and keep a bit of fitness for hillwalking!)
In my pre-mum days I would have been stressed at the thought of being so inactive. I had been quite determined not have a c section (although it turns out you cannot plan for such things) because I did not want the longer recovery time.
However, it turns out that once our captivating baby girl was born none of that seemed to matter anymore.
Of course, I want to stay fit, healthy and active, but I just knew deep down that I am committed to that, so I didn't worry too much in those few weeks about any movement.
Except, I did want to try and sort out the pain in my back.
So what did I do?
Mostly, I just lay down on the floor (never on my own as getting back up was very difficult and I needed an extra pair of hands to help). I kept my knees bent and simply spent 10 minutes a day - if I could find it - just lying down and breathing deeply.
It may seem like a small thing, but I am certain it helped my recovery a lot.
After 10 days, I started to introduce the smallest, slowest movements. I would do very gentle pelvic tilts - the movement barely noticeable to anyone else - in time to my breathing.
Then I would allow one leg at a time to fall gently out to the side as I exhaled, as I inhaled I drew it back to centre, and I repeated this a few times on each side.
For 3 weeks this is pretty much all the movement I did - except a few occasional squats while I pumped - just to see if I could!
If you are reading this and have just had a c section, I just want to encourage you to take everything really slowly in those first few weeks. Allow your body to heal. Be gentle and kind to it, it has been through a lot and given you a lot. Rest and sleep as much as you can (obviously this is a luxury for most new mums, but it is the most important thing for recovery). Most of all, just remember it all gets better with a bit of time and patience.
I am not a specialist in postnatal/postpartum exercise, I am simply recording what has worked for me and what I have found helpful, in the hope that others might find it useful in some way. Please seek expert advice if you need it or reach out to me and I will point you in the direction of some! :-)