Running after a Caesarean
If you are reading this right now, chances are we have two things in common; We’re both mums and we both want to run. And you know what? We’re both superheros too.
That’s right – bonafide superheros.
This is because as well as making a baby, carrying that little bundle of love around for nine months and going through the joys of delivering said bundle to the world – we’re also trying to make time, find childcare and find the energy to pull on our trainers and get running.
Whilst it’s hard to be a running mummy at any time, stepping into those trainers when you’ve just had a baby can feel like the biggest challenge of all…
It’s 8pm and I’m shuffling down the dimly lit hallway of the post-natal ward in our local hospital. I catch the faint reflection of myself in the window, gloriously decked out in medical grade, post surgery granny pants and wonder if I will make it to the toilets in one go.
At this point, running really wasn’t on my mind, instead I was focused on making it to the loo and back to my beautiful new son without falling over. On reflection though, this was the first step on my way back to running.
About four days later, I was at home and decided to take a gentle stroll around the block. I’d read pages and pages of information on Caesareans, but nothing prepared me for the feeling of that first walk. It was almost as if someone had cut me in half and replaced my entire mid section with jelly. It felt as if I had no core strength at all.
I’d had a complicated, but ultimately natural delivery, with my daughter eight years previously. Whilst regaining my fitness had been a slow and steady process, I could already tell that recovering from a caesarean would present it’s own set of challenges.
Build a good foundation
Everyone recovers from surgery differently and at their own pace. Here is what helped me get back into running. *always follow advice from your healthcare professional
- * Walk as soon as you are able after having a caesarean. It is so tempting to stay in bed but standing up and walking around the ward really does kick start your recovery process. Most midwives will encourage you to stand up – they may seem mean but they have your best interests at heart!
- * After a Caesarean, you will have varying amounts of Lochia (blood loss) for up to eight weeks. Be observant of how much you are losing each day and reduce your exercise if this blood loss increases.
- * All new mums are advised to wait for their six to eight week check up before commencing an exercise routine. After two and a half weeks, I felt ready to do some very gentle core exercises. These included pelvic floor exercises and deep breathing to start with followed by heel slides and heel taps. If you are unfamiliar with these exercises, have a look for videos online which explain how they can be done safely and effectively.
- * When you feel fit and able, start to go on gentle walks. Be mindful of your body, your blood loss and how you feel as you walk and determine how far is right for you. I started with a gentle ten minute stroll and gradually built up to half an hour. Be particularly mindful if you are using a baby sling.
- * Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. If you were a runner previously, it can be frustrating to go on small, slow walks. Just remember that you are rebuilding a strong foundation for your body – if you skip this bit, you’re likely to end up with an injury.
- * Think carefully about your diet and ensure you include good quality protein sources to help aid your recovery. It’s also worth taking a good quality Pro-biotic after a Caesarean to counteract the effect of antibiotics on your gut.
Once you are comfortably heading out for brisk 30 minute plus walks, it’s time to reintroduce your beloved (or possibly feared!) trainers. For some mums, just the thought of hitting the pavement is enough motivation to get back to running. For others, a goal such as completing a parkrun or finishing a race, can help. I’m definitely a goal based runner, so a few months post cesarean I entered my first race – a half marathon that would fall almost exactly seven months after my caesarean.
Come back next month to see how Kelly gets on with her first race…
About the author
Kelly is a mum of two, sometimes ultra-runner and multi-media journalist. She’s also a qualified REPS personal trainer and loves running in the mountains, her crazy dog and paddle boarding.