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Getting Back into Fitness After a C Section

Exciting news, you guys: this weekend marked my official return to organized fitness classes! Hello again, yoga – I missed you! In today’s blog post, I’m talking all about postnatal fitness – specifically how I’m getting back into fitness after my C section, and what I’ve been doing for exercise since Riese was born 6 weeks ago! Just an FYI this post contains some affiliate links.

first postpartum yoga class2

It was definitely complicated logistically to get out for a class (the class wasn’t until 9 a.m. but it still involved waking up super early and pumping first because the timing didn’t work out right to feed Riese right before I left), but man was it nice to go to a class vs. doing fitness stuff solo in my basement. :) Plus, I missed my workout buddies Chelsea and Kathleen – yay for the 3 workout musketeers being reunited. <3 I’m not ready to join them for our early morning boot camps yet (need to give my body a little more time – and to get a little more sleep first, too), but I was so glad we were able to do a weekend yoga class to kick off my return to fitness! Exercise (especially social exercise!) is totally my happy place – I’m excited to be able to get back to it over the coming weeks and months.

reunited with workout buddies

I actually went to a yoga class on Friday, too – two classes in one weekend, wow! I don’t think that will happen again anytime soon, but it was pretty lovely. Things that are awesome and also things that are weird about yoga now following my C section vs. yoga while I was pregnant:

  • I can be on my back again, yay!
  • I can twist again! Although I’m being mindful to not twist too far.
  • Child’s pose is comfortable again without a huge belly in the way. :)
  • Lying on my stomach feels fine… lying on my breasts does not. Ouch!
  • Pigeon pose doesn’t feel good right now – it’s too intense of a stretch on my C section incision area, plus I’m SO tight it’s just a bit much. I’ve been doing a variation instead (#3 in this blog post).

I’m avoiding planks (I do tabletop instead) and any more advanced ab work right now as well per advice I’ve gotten that those sort of exercises can make postnatal ab separation worse and slow core recovery. I have an appointment next week with a PT that specializes in women’s health/postnatal care and I’m going to see what she says in terms of how long I need to keep modifying/avoiding core work. I’m also avoiding anything high impact (jumping, running, etc.) for now, and will ask the PT about when it’s appropriate to slowly re-introduce that stuff, too. 

MY OTHER RECIPES
 

first postpartum yoga class

As of Friday I was 6 weeks postpartum. As you guys know, my doctor cleared me for all exercise at my 4 weeks postpartum appointment, which reeeeally surprised me because I didn’t feel ready physically to jump back into fitness at all – and thankfully I learned from you guys that I should be smart and slow about my return to fitness, even though it was tempting to rush right out for a run or join the girls for a boot camp! I know that my body is still healing, and I need to respect that.

For those first 4 weeks, my fitness was outdoor walks – Matt and I took a walk almost every day with Riese and our dog in tow and it was a really nice way to get out of the house and do something together. Fresh air always lifts spirits, too, especially when we were spending the rest of the days at home and sleep deprived/overwhelmed! Walking was also great because it was something that felt good physically, and it was easy for me to slowly scale up both in terms of speed and distance as my body recovered. Our first walk, the day after we got home from the hospital, was really slow and only around the block, but each day we increased a little, and by one week out I was back up to nearly a mile if we went slowly. By another week later, we were up to 2 miles, and since then we have usually stuck around that distance, mostly because there are a bunch of Starbucks about a mile from us and we usually walk to one of them, get lattes, and walked back. ;) So excited for the weather to warm up again this week – our walks haven’t been as frequent this past week given the extreme cold!

one month postpartum walk

Even though the walking felt good, my body definitely felt really stiff and tight from all the sitting and awkward breastfeeding positions, and I was craving some stretching in particular by the time I was 4 weeks postpartum. So, after meeting with my doctor, I spent some time reading through your recommendations and doing my own research online about how to safely and gradually re-introduce exercise after pregnancy. I really appreciate those of you who shared advice – thank you!

One of the best resources I found (thanks to you guys!) was Jessie Mundell, an expert in prenatal and postnatal exercise who offers a number of different online fitness courses for pregnancy as well as postnatal recovery. The program I was really interested in was her 8 week Core + Floor Restore Series, which comes in both an original variation and a C-section specific variation. Perfect – exactly what I was looking for! I ended up purchasing the C section specific plan pretty much immediately after reading about it, and got started the next day.

working out after a c section

The programs, which are meant to be started once you are cleared by your doctor for exercise, are 8 weeks long and include two month-long phases; the daily exercises change out when you switch phases. The program consists of a series of rehab-specific core and stretching moves to do that take no more than 10 minutes per day. I figured I could come up with 10 minutes, right?! I’ve found the program to be really well organized – it includes a great calendar document to check off each day, there’s information about how to assess ab separation, and there’s a really easy to follow daily checklist with all the moves so you make sure you don’t forget any (plus, checking things off a list makes me feel really awesome and accomplished). It comes with pictures of each move, too, which you can see above.

post c section fitness

If you’re looking for something intense, this program is not it, but it’s a really great way to do some rehab on your core and pelvic floor, which will help to get you ready to jump back into more advanced fitness later on. It will also help to teach you how to breathe and hold your core as you do more intense moves later on.

The other program that I’ve been incorporating into my routine to get me back up to speed without overdoing it is my personal trainer friend Gina’s 12 Week Post Baby Bod Program, which she kindly gifted me when she saw I was cleared for exercise by my doctor.

postpartum_workout_plan

For my fellow postpartum mamas, I would highly recommend following both Jessie’s Core + Floor Restore rehab program and Gina’s Post Baby Bod program in tandem – they are a wonderful complement to each other as Jessie’s program is focused on rehab and stretching, and Gina’s program gets you started back with strength training (but in a low key, gentle way). Gina’s program doesn’t have a C section specific option, but she does include modifications and tips for C section mamas throughout the program.

Post_baby_workout_plan

Gina’s program is also easy to follow and gives you a day-by-day exercise plan to follow with clear pictures and instructions, and it includes cardio recommendations in addition to strength. At the beginning the cardio is all walks/stroller walks, which is perfect since that’s what I was already doing! Her program also includes some nutrition tips and recipes, and I’ve found it to be useful and non-diety with delicious sounding balanced recipes. The whole tone of the program in general is very warm and positive and all about self care and practicing kindness towards yourself, which I love.

So there you have it! What I’ve been up to fitness-wise since Riese’s birth. I’ve missed a couple days of the programs here and there but for the most part I’ve done well making them a priority since starting them 2ish weeks ago. Matt has been good about helping me make them a priority, too – a couple times I’ve been like “Darn, it’s 8 p.m. and I didn’t do my rehab workout today.” And he’s like “The day isn’t over, is it?” ;) It’s surprising how quickly the days go by, but I’m proud of myself for making these recovery workouts happen most days (and being gentle with myself on the couple of days I’ve missed them, too)! Not including my cardio (our walks), these programs usually take me 10-20 minutes per day (10 minutes for the Core + Floor Restore rehab moves which I aim to do daily, and then a few times a week there’s an additional 10 minutes for the Post Baby Bod Program strength moves). Efficient – I like it!

postpartum basement workout

I’ll be talking more later this week about how I’m going to start to re-introduce more fitness classes and stuff outside of the house (because working out at home by myself is not my fave, although right now it’s what makes sense, especially as I’m rehabbing). My ClassPass is currently frozen/on hold (I emailed their customer support right before my C section and let them know the situation and they kindly froze it for me for free so I wasn’t getting charged; it will reactive at the end of this month, two months after I froze it). So any classes I do between now and then I’ll just pay for through the studios directly – I was tempted to start my ClassPass up again sooner, but I didn’t want to be stressed about getting in x classes per week, or pushing myself too hard. I’m also holding off on the running for now – as I said earlier, I want to wait until I meet with the PT to see what she thinks in terms of how soon I can start to slowly jog again. The weather is not exactly enticing for running right now, so that helps me to be more patient in the meantime. ;)

I will leave you with a few more resources that may be of interest if you are also getting back into fitness after having a baby:

If you have any other postpartum fitness advice or resources worth a look, I’d love to hear them! Catch you guys tomorrow with some recent eats!

Comments

  1. 1

    I’m definitely going to be referring back to this post after our baby is born so thanks for the detailed post with all the resources. I can’t wait to get back into working out. I haven’t been able to do anything besides go for walks as my rheumatoid arthritis has been so bad during pregnancy. I’m really excited to get back to running but I know that won’t happen for awhile. I wish it was standard protocol to refer new mamas to a PT that specialists in postnatal care. I wish that was something that was more standard, especially if you had a C-section!

  2. 2

    Great information! Thanks for sharing!

  3. 3

    Thank you so much for sharing this info! I have never really come across any C-section specific post-natal fitness stuff, so I will definitely check out the Jessie Mundell’s program! :)

  4. 5

    You look amazing!

  5. 7

    Great info! Glad you got to enjoy a couple yoga classes!

  6. 8

    Thank you for sharing all of this as you are learning! I hope to one day have a child or two if able, and I know your blog would serve as a great resource. So often I think people forget how much rehab is needed after pregnancy and childbirth. You look beautiful, Anne! I hope you are able to get back to some of your routine soon! I love working out at home with my Barre3 subscription but also crave social exercise. I also need to get out to feel better mentally/emotionally. So I completely understand what you mean.

  7. 9

    Ugh I feel you on the logistics of getting to a fitness class with feeding and pumping. I’ve been mostly working out at home for that very reason. I’m hoping it gets easier because classes are a lot more fun than working out at home.

  8. 11

    Thank you so much for recommending the core and pelvic floor program, I’m going to purchase that as well. I was also 6 weeks PP on Friday and just did my first PP workout (other than walks) today. Wow did it ever feel good / weird all at once haha. My pelvis definitely felt very different when doing things like lunges. I kept it low impact as well. I’m going back to yoga on Wednesday and so looking forward to it!

  9. 13
    Lyndsay Johnson says:

    I’m so glad you saw my comment about Jesse’s program! Good luck on your post partum fitness journey!

  10. 15

    I am so impressed by how you‘re handling it all! I haven‘t heard of any moms who got back into fitness so soon and thoughful as you do. Very inspiring! And I love your basement gym by the way! We have one too and it looks very similar – basement-ish… 😂

  11. 17

    Do you ever worried if maybe you are addicted to exercise? I don’t say this to be hurtful, more as an honest question. Your posts regarding getting back to working out and so soon, and getting out of the house without baby etc. have a happier tone than the posts about your new daughter. This time goes by so, so fast… enjoy it at home, in jammies while you can. She will be big before you know it and working out will always be there. Just something to watch, as I have bordered on exercise addiction in the past and it was so hard to see it while in the thick of it.

    • 18

      I appreciate the concern, but I just enjoy moving my body and love the mental health benefits (and social time) that it brings to my life! It feels nice to do something good for myself, and I especially benefit from the meditative/calming benefits that yoga brings. <3 The happiness Riese brings me is clearly MUCH greater than exercise, though, even if I haven't articulated that as well - I think it's harder to write about stuff like that vs. more fluff stuff like fitness!

  12. 19

    Thanks for sharing! If I’m ever in that situation I’ll remember this post and I’ll know where to start! :)

  13. 20
    Elizabeth says:

    Wow you look amazing! I am two years out from my third baby and although I lost all the weight ages ago my abdomen I said nowhere near as flat as yours”

  14. 21
    Roadrunner says:

    Very impressive, Anne. Well done already! Very informative post…

  15. 22

    Looking good girl these are great resources! We all have to rebegin our fitness at one point or another either because of injury or babies or whatever, you’ve got this!

  16. 23

    Love your gentle approach to reintroducing fitness. I can’t even imagine how hard it is to not be getting the movement you’re used to, but I’m glad you’re making it work with the walks and the two great programs! Wishing you a speedy rest of your recovery so you can go back to total #beastmode :)

    • 24

      Thanks Nicole! I’ve been too tired to do much else anyway, so this feels just about right. But it will be fun to get to do more as the weeks pass!

  17. 25

    I haven’t been pregnant (yet) but last year I had major abdominal surgery to remove cancer from my liver (bye bye right lobe) and small intestine. You don’t realise how much you use your core to do things until it has been cut open – let alone been stretched out for nine months! I wish there was more information given to new mamas (my bestie is currently getting back into fitness after a c-section baby) by their ob/gyns about how to get back into exercise safely. It must be so frustrating especially for someone who really loves to move their body but wants to do it safely! Thank you so much for sharing these resources, I’ll keep them filed away safely until my time comes to have a little one!

    • 26

      Thank you Amy! You should send this post to your bestie! And you’re right… it’s crazy how much we use our core. Definitely don’t realize it until it’s not able to be used as well!

Trackbacks

  1. […] are back on the table, though. (For more on my postpartum fitness journey, check out my post on What I’ve Been Doing Since The Baby Arrived (includes recs for postpartum core rehab) and my plans for getting back into fitness moving […]

  2. […] Weirdly, one of the things that bothered me most was actually my aggressively tight groin muscles. Is that normal for a C section? Or just for postpartum in general? I’m sure the lack of stretching and all the sitting I was doing after Riese was born probably contributed to that, as well as all the shifting/changing my body has done over the past year, but it was still kind of weird. I do remember that 4 or 5 weeks after Riese was born when I first started doing some light stretching I was so tight that I couldn’t lie on my back with one leg straight on the floor and the other leg lifted – I had to bend my lower leg knee or lift that leg slightly off the floor. Thankfully now that’s not the case anymore, but I guess things are still just extremely tight! (For more on some of the gentle core strengthening and stretching moves I have been doing post C-section, check out this post: Getting Back into Fitness After a C Section.) […]

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