Fit after your C-section
Yes - you are actually allowed to do exercise after a C-section, BUT going at it in the gym after your C-section will however have to wait. Here I have some tips and tricks of how soon you can start & what is considered safe after you had your C-section.
First things first.....
Healing doesn't take place over night - be realistic about your goals post-baby. You didn't pick up the extra baby weight over night so don't expect to get rid of it just like that. A C-section is a big operation and it is really important to be patient with your recovery process for proper healing to take place. The first 6 weeks are critical for healing so make sure you don't do anything to straining on your body.
Fit before pregnancy!!
This is where your fitness & conditioning before pregnancy plays such an important role. If you didn't think you have to be fit to have a baby - think again! The fitter and stronger you are before pregnancy the better your body can cope with the demands that are being placed on the systems and the muscles during pregnancy. The stronger your core prior to falling pregnant the quicker your recovery will be post C-section and the quicker you will be able to get back into your fitness routine. Remember that during pregnancy your Rectus Abdominus muscles as well as your Pelvic floor takes a HUGE strain - so if they were already weak to begin with that means they will take much longer to recover again. So training these muscles prior & during pregnancy is of utmost importance - and don't forget there is a right and a wrong way to train these muscles safely during pregnancy - so don't just accept any fitness professional to help you, make sure you find someone qualified in Pre/Postnatal fitness.
Directly after birth
You can start with Kegel and pelvic floor exercises directly after giving birth. These are exercises you can perform anywhere at anytime. It requires very little effort and will be safe for the healing of your scar as well.
*Lie on your back with your knees bent 90 degrees
*Gently contract your pelvic floor muscles while exhaling
*At the same time contract your abdominal muscles in towards yourself and up - focus on contracting all your abdominal muscles and not just "sucking" in your stomach
*Hold this contraction for 10 seconds while not forgetting to breath - really important
*Relax and repeat 10x
It is recommended that these are the only abdominal exercises you perform for 6-8weeks until your doctor has given you the green light to go back to normal exercises. Sit-ups, crunches & even planks are completely forbidden to do in this initial healing phase. Not only can you tear your stitches open but you can and most likely will cause or worsen Diastasis Recti if you experienced it during your pregnancy - so please avoid these exercises! It can cause long term damage to your abdominal muscles.
After 6-8 weeks
First of all - GET CLEARANCE from your medical doctor before commencing your normal fitness routine again. Every woman is different and recovery will look different for every woman and it will also depend on how fit you were before and during your pregnancy. For some women they might need longer than 6-8 weeks to heal and that is okay! You just made a human and I think that is pretttttyyyy awesome - so your body will take the time it needs to recover.
STILL be careful with abdominal exercises. Don't just assume you can all of a sudden jump back on the sit-ups and crunches wagon. If you experienced any form of Diastasis Recti (abdominal separation) you will need corrective exercise to help heal the gap between your abdominals. Consult with a Pre & Postnatal exercise specialist to make sure you are getting the correct help you need to help with this healing process or just to find out if you have Diastasis Recti.
Once you have been cleared for exercise & you experience any of the following please contact your medical doctor:
*You experience nausea
*Constant dizzy spells
*Any vaginal bleeding
*Stomach or chest pains
*Swelling in the ankles or calf area
Be gentle on yourself
Most important of all to remember is to not put a timeline to your recovery - it is not a race. You need to make sure you are looking after yourself 1st - because if mommy isn't well then she can't look after her baby to the best of her abilities. Don't compare your healing process with fellow moms - you will only place unnecessary stress on yourself. We live in a world where moms are expected to do everything and more and are left with zero time for themselves. You will undergo the most significant changes during pregnancy and especially postpartum and the body afterwards is not always what you might expect. Allow yourself to be confident and to strive to love yourself no matter what. Be patient with your body & with yourself. Be proud of yourself - you just did the most amazing thing in this world - created a new life!
Getting your postpartum body back and reaching your own personal goals will take time. Hard work pays off - so trying to take some time for yourself to exercise can have an incredibly amazing impact on your confidence and mental well being, but please remember to get the needed clearance first and then take it step for step from there. You got this beautiful mamma!