I am writing this blog post to hopefully help others who might find themselves in a similar situation. My sweet baby boy was born March 5th. I had a healthy pregnancy and I was fully prepared to have a vaginal delivery. I always knew a c-section was possible but I didn’t think I would have to experience it. Well, long story short, I did. Having a c-section completely threw me off for a solid month. For the first two weeks, it hurt every single time I got out of bed. I was usually fine once I got up, it was just the getting up and down part that sucked. I did get better every day though. Before I go any further, I AM THANKFUL I HAD A C-SECTION AND THAT BOTH ME AND MY BABY ARE HEALTHY. God was definitely watching over us (like He always is). I’m not going to share his birth story here but it is up on this instagram post if you want to read it click here
There is not enough information out there for moms who have C-sections. It has become such a norm that people don’t even think twice about it. I had a lot of people tell me, oh you’ll be back to running in a few weeks. 🙄 But the reality is, a c-section is a major surgery and it should be treated like so. Not to mention you have a brand new baby that you need to take care of. You will definitely need help. I needed help getting in and out of bed for a solid two weeks. I also could not get up while holding my baby for a week.
I did not do any research on c-sections before hand because I just did not want to think about it. I’m a bit of a baby when it comes to needles, knives, surgery, etc. In fact when they wheeled me into the operating room, I told them I was closing my eyes until they got the curtain up so I didn’t see any of their tools. They were like, well we have to move you onto the table- I told them go ahead and do whatever you need to, but my eyes will be closed. (Lol) I will close my eyes for the next c-section too. I don’t know if I would of actually seen any knives but if I did it would of completely freaked me out even more. I did not even look at my incision until like a week and a half in and even that was by accident. I caught a glimpse in the mirror. I’m a mess I know, I’m just glad my husband is not grossed out by all of this. He was the one who had to take my bandages off. Anyways- we had to do a lot of research when we got home.
Unfortunately I was not given a lot of information on my recovery at the hospital. I was told to walk around the hospital 3 times a day every day I was in the hospital and that was about it. Even my 2 week check up with my doctor was not super helpful (my doctor is amazing by the way and the lack of information has nothing to do with her, it’s just how things are done). She said I could go up and down stairs, drive, and do the dishes and laundry. We asked her a lot of questions, lol but she said no activity but walking until 6 weeks. So that is what I did.
When I went back in for my 6 week check up, my doctor looked at my incision and asked how I was doing, then she released me to go back to all activities. Unfortunately you do not get much information in terms of a safe return to exercise. This is why I recommend doing some of your own research and seeing a Physical Therapist. If you think about people who have ACL or any type of surgery really, they almost always are told to go see a physical therapist afterwards. So why would a c-section be any different? It shouldn’t be, especially if you are planning on returning to an active lifestyle.
Some important parts of my recovery were: scar massage, core stabilization exercises, aquatic therapy, diastasis recti exercises, and seeing a pelvic floor specialist.
Scar massage is an important part of my recovery. I did not start this until 6 weeks post and I honestly was not the best about keeping up with it. My husband (who is an PT) showed me how to do this and made sure I did it at least a few time a week. The reasons you would want to do this is, to help prevent your scar from keloid formation, to reduce scar tissue, and to make sure your bladder does not adhere to your incision. You can look up how to do this on the internet. However, I would encourage you to go see a therapist. This is just one more reason why you should see a pelvic floor physical therapist after giving birth.
So what did a C-section and diastasis recti mean for me in terms of getting back into shape/running? I took 6 full weeks off. During this time, I tried to focus on recovery, walking, and spending every second with my baby boy. The only activity I did was walking.
I got released from my doctor at 5 and a 1/2 weeks with no restrictions. She told me I could basically go back to my active lifestyle. Honestly, this surprised me but I was pretty excited I got released! I went to see a women’s specialist before I started working out again because I wanted to make sure everything was fine. She gave me a few exercises to do everyday. You can find these exercises on my instagram profile under postpartum core stabilization. I also added a few exercises that me and my husband decided would be good for me to do. Each video shows how often I did each exercise and the reps/sets. Here is the link to my instagram
I got into the pool for aquatic therapy at 6 weeks postpartum and did some pool running and core exercises in the water before I did them on land. This is another place where a PT would come in handy.
I did not start running again until 7 weeks postpartum. I started out very slowly. The first two times I ran, I did 2 minutes of slow running then 1 minute of walking for 30 minutes. I started doing ladder workouts at 8 weeks post (these are my favorite workouts). The workout is: 1min-2min-3min-4min-5min-5min-4min-3min-2min-1min runs with a 1min walk break in between each set. Each time I either increased my speed (just a little though) or increased the time. I did these ladders for a few weeks until I got comfortable running in longer stretches. I moved on to running longer distances, half a mile then a walk break- repeat for 3 miles. I just kept adding on to my base as the runs went on. I remember the first time I ran a mile with stopping. I was so excited!! That was around 10 weeks post. I am trying to build my base before I add speed in. I am up to 5 miles at 14 weeks post-op. I probably will not add in speed training for a few more months. My training plan for my January marathon starts in September if all goes well. All of these runs had proper warm ups and cools downs.
I went back to see the women’s specialist around 3 months to get a pelvic floor check up. Even though I had a c-section, my body was unaware and still went through the same process it would of if I had a vag birth. Not to mention the stress of being pregnant can cause some damage to your pelvic floor. I recommend getting your pelvic floor checked by a specialist to make sure you are ready to start running again. Luckily I got the all clear from her, so I kept training like normal. Ideally I should have seen her around 2 months but you know, life happens.
If you had a c-section and your thinking, crap I will never be able to run/workout at the same intensity I did before I got pregnant, (these were my thoughts) you will. Just give yourself time. I am no where near back to the same workouts or body I was pre-pregnancy, but I know it will come with time.
Keep following my comeback journey on Instagram