What I'm Doing to Rebuild Fitness After My C-Section

by - Wednesday, August 30, 2023

This title might come as a surprise to some since I never blogged about being pregnant. The past year was full of complications, and there was never really a time that didn't feel scary to share the news. 

The birth was full of complications too that landed me in the ICU. Suffice it to say pregnancy and childbirth were not at all what I imagined they would be like. 

Here's one of the few pictures of me pregnant. This was me enjoying my last float in the pool the day before our baby was born. 


Now that I'm generally cleared for physical activity again, I'm slowly starting to find my way back to an exercise routine, and let me tell you, it looks a heck of a lot different than anything I did before.

I was slapped with exercise restrictions at 20 weeks pregnant. No more running, no heavy lifting. I could basically swim, walk or do yoga. It was a pretty devastating blow since I was just getting back to running after my hip injury. 

Once my favorite activities were off the table, I lost a lot of my aerobic endurance fitness, but I focused on what I could do. I got into a nice swim habit and spent a lot of time training my deep core and pelvic floor, knowing that would make postpartum recovery easier. 

Because of said complication, I was medically required to have a C-section. Having your abdominal wall and like seven other layers of stuff cut open requires some major recovery time followed by some major rehab work. 

In the first two weeks postpartum, I focused my efforts on deep breathing and reconnecting my brain to my core muscles. I was in quite a bit of pain, and other than sitting on the sofa, breathing and trying to go for some short walks around my house there wasn't much more I could be doing. Oh and trying to keep a tiny human alive on like no sleep. 

By week three, much of the soreness from the surgery had started to fade. At my two week doctor appointment, my OB was happy with how the incision was healing and encouraged me to start scar massage to help prevent the build up of scar tissue. 

So I added that in, along with some gentle core engagement work and slowly began to increase the distance I was walking. (We're talking going from like a quarter mile to a half mile, and then eventually progressing up to a mile).

My goal each day was a daily walk to get me and the baby some fresh air (assuming the weather was decent), some time spent breathing and doing those introductory core engagement exercises plus my scar massage. It maybe sounds like a lot, but I was only a few weeks post-major surgery so everything was really short durations and low intensity.

I'm about 8 weeks out now, and I've slowly started lengthening my walks and increasing some of the load on my core exercises. For example I've progressed from doing a wall plank to a plank on an elevated surface. I've also done a handful of strength training sessions with dumbbells. Again these are very short maybe 20 minutes or so that I can fit in during a nap. It also helps that I'm following a plan from a physical therapist that helps me map out how I should be progressing different things.

I'm itching to start running again, but I'm forcing myself to spend the time on the rehab first, and to try not to rush. A C section is major surgery, and the last thing I want is to injure myself because I jumped back into something too soon. I know I need a strong core to stabilize me while I run (and just exist day to day). I have big hopes of running some races later this year and into the spring, so I'm forcing myself to spend time building a solid foundation so that I don't suffer further set back when I start running again. I'm super impatient so this isn't easy,  but I keep telling myself it will pay off in the long run.

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