My Postpartum Story
Are you eager to start exercise again after a c-section? I completely understand! I have been active all my life in soccer, running, golf, and HIIT workouts. With my first baby, I gained over 45 lbs. (I am only 5’2″), and I had significant round ligament pain. You better believe that I was dying to get back to exercising! However, postpartum recovery was rough. My son was not latching properly, and I was producing enough milk for twins. This was a time before the more innovative breast pumps, so much of my time was spent pumping my breastmilk and then bottle feeding my son every 2-3 hours. On top of that, my son would not let me put him down to nap for the first fourth months. Believe me, I tried everything. Plus, my husband and I did not have any family in Florida to help give me a break. All of this left me exhausted and overwhelmed. My only saving grace was that my son enjoyed going for walks in the stroller.
So, what is the point of my postpartum story? Just to let you know that I understand how tough it can be after having a baby OR babies. I used to read a bunch of resources about exercising during postpartum, and laugh because trying to find time to exercise was such a joke. Even though I was a stay-at-home mom, and I had so much trouble finding ways to squeeze in a decent workout. Years later when I look back, all of this actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise because it forced me to rest my body.
Learning the Hard Way
Fast forward to after my third cesarean delivery, I began doing HIIT workouts with bodyweight around 8 weeks postpartum. Next, I transitioned to HIIT workouts with weights. My strength and endurance increased, however, I noticed that my diastasis recti stayed at almost 3 finger widths, and I started having urinary urgency. As a result, I began the routine of doing the “just in case” pee all the time. I even went to the bathroom at the grocery store, which I only ever used during pregnancy. I knew that something had to change to improve my quality of life, and this is when I found the importance of breathing to manage my pressure system particularly with exertion during activity. (This was before the popularity of pelvic floor therapy.)
Let My Lesson Help Your Success
What is the lesson learned from my experience? Do not rush into postpartum exercise after a c-section. Give your body rest and wait until you are cleared by your OB/GYN. Pelvic floor therapy is growing fast, and you will hear different opinions about returning to postpartum exercise. However, I predict that most of the information provided to you on social media are not women who experienced c-sections. They do not truly understand the postpartum recovery process especially when burdened with all the other stressors related to transitioning to motherhood whether you have one child or eight children.
So, what can you do during early postpartum recovery? Unless you maintained a high level of physical fitness throughout your pregnancy, I recommend only walking until you regain abdominal engagement stability by learning how to perform a correct breathing pattern during exertion. During pregnancy, adaptation to a paradoxical breathing pattern is common due to the insufficient space for diaphragmatic movement. So, before jumping back into physical fitness activities, you need to relearn how to perform a breathing pattern with expansion during inhalation and contraction with exhalation.
Be patient and slowly ease yourself back into exercise.