Getting fit after giving birth via c section: the first couple of months

I thought I should start at the beginning – the beginning of motherhood, that is. I’ll write about being fit and active during pregnancy later, but since this is a blog about being a fit and active mother, here we are. The first month of Pixie’s life was tough – recovery from the birth, learning my baby, sleep deprivation and colic left me wondering desperately if I might ever have anything resembling a normal life ever again. By focusing on rest and recovery during this month, my body was able to heal relatively quickly. My beloved husband and baby daddy, BD, found a fantastic article about recovery from c section and in the second month I introduced the gentle stomach exercises recommended. But let me go back to the beginning…

Pixie was a breach baby, bum down in a v-shape, and so was born via c section – not the peaceful happy water birth I had been hoping for. But she was born healthy and with minimal trauma (relatively, since it was planned) and so that was really the most important thing.

Obviously, my first priority was taking care of my new new newborn and recovering from major abdominal surgery. Having a c section is no joke and I treated the recovery as such. The first month was all about rest, recovery (both things super important to maintaining fitness in the long term) and slowly introducing activity back into my life.

The first week, I didn’t even pick up my precious little bundle, per the doctor’s orders. BD handed her to me every time she needed to eat or have a cuddle. I sat or laid down almost all of the time, flat on my back since any other way pulled at the stitches. However I did make sure to walk around the apartment to keep my blood circulating, and we went out on our first walk on day 3. BD had Pixie in the baby carrier and I held onto his arm with a death grip as we slowly made our way out of the building and over to the park across the street. We only made it a little ways into the park before I was completely exhausted so we turned around and came home. But the point is that we went out. And every day, we walked a little farther. From 10 minutes to 15, to 20 and up to 25 minutes by the end of the first week.

The second week, I started picking up Pixie on my own. Little victories like that kept me motivated. I still rested most of the time (and let’s be honest, I was too sleep-deprived to do much else regardless!), but I walked more and I held my baby and focused on the ultimate goal of getting back to exercise as soon as I could – which meant rest rest rest.

When BD went back to work after his 2 weeks’ paternity leave, I felt strong enough to take Pixie in the baby carrier. We went out for walks every day, which served as my exercise, a nap for Pixie, and my connection to the outside world. For the next couple of weeks, those walks were my dedicated activity time, during which I got re-acquainted with the idea of moving and assured myself that I could return to being to the athletic person I remembered that I had been once.

BUT, and this is important, rest was still the name of the game. I had a friend, years ago, who had her first baby and was on a treadmill 10 days later. Granted she was 22 at the time and a personal trainer and had a natural delivery, and I am not either of those and had a c section, but I always held her in my mind as my role model, how I wanted to be after baby. It was tough to give up that ideal, but important. If I didn’t rest, I wouldn’t recover well and ultimately it would take longer for me to be able to do real exercise.

The second month was similar, but I added gentle tummy exercises to start re-engaging my abs. When Pixie would go down for her nap, I would take the quiet time to do my few moves, paying very close attention to how the wound and muscles felt and never pushing it too far. One time I made the mistake of searching on the internet about how soon I could exercise after a c section, and found horror story after horror story of women who had started too early (and those who even waited the recommended amount of time) and I will spare you the details, but had horrible disgusting repercussions. Yikes! So I continued to take it easy, but persisted with the moves and walking every day. I even started wearing a pedometer so I could make sure that I moved at least 4800 steps every day. And walking with Pixie made me feel like I was really doing it all – bonding with my baby! Being active! Being a role model for my little girl! Never mind that she had no idea what was happening!

It took effort, and commitment, to get moving (and to rest) those first few months. Carving out the time between feeding and changing and trying to get some sleep and visitors and staring at my beautiful offspring was something I had to consciously do, with BD’s support. But I believe it was crucial to my recovery. Also, I fit into all my pre-pregnancy clothes before that second month was over. Perhaps not as nicely as I had before, but it was a start!

What have I done today?

Having a baby means the start of my day is dictated by the little one, who starts to make noise and whine and generally make herself known when she is ready to get up and eat. Usually, this is around 5am. If I am lucky, it’s 5:30. Insane luxury, I know.

However the upside is that as soon as she is fed and changed, I can get my day started and tackle any projects on my to-do list. I always try to exercise first thing, and also get going on anything else really important that I want to make sure gets done. Somehow it seems like my productivity decreases throughout the day, but that may just be my motivation. Tomato, tomahto?

I’m certainly no expert in getting things done (my husband might, in fact, argue the opposite) – but I am active, and fit, while also being a mother to a clever, stubborn, willful and most wonderful 5.5 month old. I exercised throughout my pregnancy, which I think made a huge difference both in my recovery and in getting back into shape. I will write about these topics, as well as a little about food, and exercise, and mommy-ing, and anything else that seems relevant. Also some things that may not seem relevant. I can get distracted. Often by workout gear.